Bird & Bird and Cambridge Alumni Energy Society host event on smart energy systems

On 22 May, Bird & Bird hosted an event together with the Cambridge Alumni Energy Society which aimed to explore and discuss the practicalities and challenges of implementing smart energy systems.

The discussion started off with a presentation from Phil Lawton, Future System Operations Manager at National Grid who provided an introduction to National Grid’s role in system balancing and the challenges of the changing energy landscape. In particular, National Grid is working with stakeholders across the energy value chain to identify cost effective and robust solutions. Specific issues included:

  • The increasing levels of renewable and more remote generation – potential solutions discussed included network reinforcement and utilising storage technologies in conjunction with generation.
  • Changes to stability and the energy margin available to the grid – improved weather forecasting, flexing Inter-Connectors, and Demand Response and storage technologies were suggested as potential mitigating tools.
  • Electrification of heat and transport and how the national system operator aims to deal with periods of peak demand – there was a discussion of the benefits of intra-day storage over inter-day storage technologies and the potential of dual-fuel heating to combat peak winter demand for heat.

This was followed by a presentation from Sacha Meckler, Regulatory and Business Development Manager from WIPRO, who explored the interactions between technology and society in the energy sector and the challenges to moving forward from an energy system which is deeply ingrained in commercial and social cultures. Sacha’s presentation also focused on:

  • The Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES) project in Shetland as an example of how the use of renewable generation can be optimised and the importance of engaging society and consumers in the process to maximise the benefits.
  • The innovation paradox by which innovation may be held back if the initial innovators are not incentivised correctly, allowing agile operators who follow fast on the heels of innovators to make the most profit.
  • The transformative processes necessary to reconfigure the energy system for the future of the energy industry.

Both speakers’ presentations were followed by in-depth in discussion with the audience who represented a broad range of companies with various interests in the energy industry.

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