Utility Week

UTILITY Week 10th April 2015

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24 | 10TH - 16TH APRIL 2015 | UTILITY WEEK Conference Demand Response and Future Networks, 17 March, Birmingham Expect the unexpected "Be flexible and adapt to the future" – that is the clarion call for networks. A t the Demand Response and Future Networks Conference in Birmingham last month, sponsored by the Met Office and Schneider Electric, the message from the speakers was clear: as the world grows smarter, energy networks must adapt to the challenges that come as part of the decarbonisation of the energy system. "Customer buy-in is key," said British Gas regulatory manager Tabish Khan. "Smart metering will lay the foundations and change the dynamic customers have with the energy system." Maxine Frerk, interim senior partner at Ofgem, emphasised the importance of get- ting customers engaged by giving them the opportunity to participate in "as many differ- ent ways as they can". Over the past 20 years the networks have brought more focus to bear on improving service. "We've moved to manage the system rather than the assets," said Scottish Power's future networks manager, Martin Hill. Yet despite this progress, networks are far from having a clear vision of their role, and busi- ness model, in a world of smarter energy. Today they are grappling with the question: is energy a commodity or a service? If the latter is true, then data will become an increasingly critical network asset. Richard Noakes of HP Enterprise Services The Speakers declared that "data needs to be managed and value extracted from it". Looking to the future, the next five years are going to be vital in delivering on 2030 climate change targets – aims that cannot be met unless the networks mobilise for change, with full government support and utilities investing alongside. Neither should gas networks be forgot- ten. Angus McIntosh of Scotia Gas Networks reminded delegates of the important role gas will play in decarbonisation and urged the electricity networks not to bear the full bur- den of the integration of renewables. Newcastle University researcher Myriam Neaimeh, who chaired the final session, summed up the day with an outline of how to solve the increasingly complex challenges facing the networks. "Solutions include demand response," she said. "We are used to the supply follow- ing the demand; we need to start thinking of how the demand can follow the supply." Collaboration is essential in meeting these challenges, delegates and speakers concluded. "Customers, distribution network opera- tors, National Grid, new players and regu- lators need to talk together, especially as some initiatives seem to conflict with others, to have a successful transformation of our energy system," said Neaimeh. Howard Porter chief executive, BEAMA "Even if regulators and politicians don't believe in climate change challenges, the fact that gas may be turned off at any time doesn't half focus minds." Tabish Khan regulatory manager, British Gas "The important thing about energy is that the people who can benefit the most are the fuel poor and vulnerable, who are slow adopters of technology. It needs to be accessible to everyone." Zoltan Zavody head of Grid, Renewable UK "The con- nection pro- cess [of distributed generation] needs to be efficient. We need to maintain a strong TSO-DNO interface and make sure gen- erators know what's going on in terms of system needs and commercial opportu- nities for the future, so they can provide an efficient and eco- nomic service." Operations & Assets

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