The government has been urged to accelerate the progress of unlocking flexibility across the entire energy system by Energy UK.
On 26 February, Energy UK published a report, Delivering the Potential of Flexibility, developed in partnership with the Association for Decentralised Energy and BEAMA, in which it mapped out how flexibility and its services, such as energy storage and demand side response, have been recognised as a “vital element” by government, Ofgem and industry, when it comes to securing a net zero energy system at the lowest cost to consumers. It added that research has estimated that, if the full potential of flexibility is achieved, then savings of £8bn per year to the end of the decade could be delivered, even reaching £40bn a year by 2050.
However, the report stressed that despite a widespread consensus on flexibility’s importance, progressing integrating it into the energy system has been slow.
It made a series of recommendations, including that Ofgem work with industry to develop a new version of the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan (SSFP). The industry is calling for it to be “reviewed and renewed” by summer 2020 with the main aim of the review to deliver a more substantive strategy for flexibility in the GB energy system. An updated version of the SSFP should also include existing actions, along with necessary additions given changes in the years since the original plan; a clear indication of the steps required to achieve each action, intended prioritisation, the desired timeframes intended for full implementation, and the metrics for measuring success; and lead to the formation of an industry-led advisory group to contribute towards delivery of the actions of the SSFP. The report also called for action to amend market mechanisms and that network operators are barred from participating in markets for ancillary services.
Charles Wood, Head of New Energy Services and Heat at Energy UK, stressed action needs to be taken now, or there is a risk of missing out on the benefits of flexibility. Wood said: “The products, technology and finance are all there but the opportunities and incentives aren’t – meaning business cases for investment aren’t stacking up. Overall demand for power has been falling for some time but the electrification of heating and transport will greatly increase demand at peak times and flexibility will be absolutely essential to cope with this.”