The UK electricity system has enjoyed high levels of resilience historically, and remains resilient today, but things are changing fast that pose risks to resilience in the short, medium and long term.
In its written evidence, the IET addresses the very wide range of issues that together contribute to resilience of electricity infrastructure.
The Government has taken steps to address short term supply issues through electricity market reform (EMR), but the measures have to work if we are to retain good resilience. GB will be exposed to lower than historic plant margins from the coming winter until plant procured under EMR provides capacity from 2018.
More significant for the medium term (and to a degree the short term) are the transformational changes to electricity networks and the whole electricity system as a consequence of decarbonisation. These include large amounts of self-dispatching renewable generation, the potential electrification of transport and space heating, and the rise of the smart consumer and smart home. These increase complexity and require a level of engineering coordination and integration that the current industry structure and market regime does not provide. In turn this increased complexity presents potentially substantially increased vulnerability to cyber threats.
The IET recommends the establishment of a System Architect in the near future to allow these challenges to be addressed effectively. This will allow coherent engineering solutions to be developed and implemented such that resilience is ensured, whilst also optimising costs to consumers as the transformation implied by decarbonisation is delivered.
(Note: For more about the IET’s System Architect proposal see www.theiet.org/pnjv)
The IET gave oral evidence on 21 October 2014.
Submission Details Submitted on 19 September 2014 to House of Lords Science and Technology Committee