The UK’s energy landscape is changing
Today, most of our electricity is generated in large, centralised power stations and distributed around the country across vast networks, managed by the Transmission System Operator (TSO). Unable yet to cost effectively store electricity, the TSO must balance the supply from power stations with demand from users in real-time to avoid blackouts. If a power station trips out for example, the TSO must either turn on back-up generation to make up the shortfall or turn down demand.
These power stations are largely fossil-fuel powered; mainly by natural gas. To address the issues of climate change and reduce carbon emitted by these power stations, the UK government has committed to reach net zero emissions by 2050, largely by moving to more renewable forms of generation such as wind and solar.
However, renewable generation is inherently variable with output governed by the weather. Electricity production therefore rises and drops as the weather changes and again the TSO needs to either increase generation or reduce demand to keep the system in balance. The TSO does this on a second-by-second basis, constantly calling on flexible resources including Demand Side Response (DSR) from Aggregators such as OakTree Power to keep the grid stable.
The path to net zero – more wind generation and more flexible resources
In February 2020, Ofgem, the UK’s energy regulator, published its action plan to decarbonise the energy sector and help Britain get to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. To get the energy sector on track for net zero, Ofgem’s decisions support rapid de-carbonisation and investment in renewables.
To achieve its net zero ambitions, the UK must reach 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, 30GW more than today! So, far more flexible resources will be required to enable this ambitious expansion of the UK’s wind generation sector.
In order to reach this target, the government made a commitment to build this capacity, commissioning three times more offshore wind generation during the 2020s than in the previous decade. The 30GW of new capacity will be equivalent to the installation of a 12MW turbine every weekday for a decade and £50 billion worth of investment.
Greater flexibility will be required to ensure the security of the grid, highlighting the need for new technologies such as flexibility platforms, automated demand side response, aggregation and storage.
Check out the GridWatch dashboard below, to see where our energy is coming from in real-time.