Future Power System Architecture project

The Future Power System Architecture (FPSA) project is an ambitious effort involving dozens of industry professionals, academics, policymakers and stakeholders to assess the challenges to be faced in the electricity system by 2030 and to identify new functionality required.

An overview

The challenge: major change ahead for the British power system

Britain’s electrical power system will undergo large-scale change by 2030. Major policy challenges, the opportunities of advanced technologies and falling prices, and emerging new business models will all contribute. Using National Grid's 'Gone Green' Future Energy Scenario (2016) as our baseline, we expect to see:

  • more wind and solar PV farms with closer integration to storage and system services
  • smaller scale generation connected to distribution networks
  • customers’ homes and businesses able to generate and store power
  • more reliance on interconnectors
  • growth of domestic and grid-scale storage.

The changing requirements of customers – for example, electric vehicle charging, heat pumps and smart appliances – will disrupt traditional demand patterns. These requirements will interact with smart meters, automated home energy management, dynamic tariffs and demand-side response. Meanwhile, new players such as smart cities and community energy schemes will create market opportunities through aggregation of both supply and demand. These major developments are all happening at the same time and are becoming core features of the power system.

The response: transforming the power system architecture

The architecture of the power system is the underlying organisation of the electricity system – how all of the parts and elements are organised and interact, technically, commercially and administratively. Though it has served us well for several decades, today’s power system architecture now requires significant development as new technologies and business models grow from a relatively small scale to become major features of the British power system over the next 15-20 years. These developments require transformative change to be enabled through greater agility and flexibility of sector functions and processes. The breadth and challenge of the changes ahead is summarised in the government's recent smart energy consultation.

The Future Power System Architecture project

The Future Power System Architecture (FPSA) project is an ambitious effort involving dozens of industry professionals, academics, policymakers and stakeholders to assess the challenges to be faced in the electricity system by 2030 and to identify new functionality required. The FPSA programme uses a ‘whole system’ approach* to addressing Britain’s future power system challenges. The project is a collaboration between the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Energy Systems Catapult (ESC), undertaken with the support of Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

FPSA Project Phase One (FPSA 1) 

The first phase of the programme concluded in July 2016 and identified a requirement for 35 new or significantly extended functions embracing the connection and operation of advanced technologies, new business models including local markets, and both regulatory and market enablers such as data interoperability and end-to-end cyber security. The necessary scale and pace of change required to deliver this functionality by 2030 will be achieved only through a carefully defined, broadly co-ordinated and purposefully implemented programme. It will be challenging, but it is possible. You can find out more about the recommendations in the FPSA 1 outputs:

  1. PDF Summary Report (445 k)

FPSA Project Phase Two (FPSA2)

The second and current phase of the FPSA project (FPSA2) is looking deeper and extending the analysis developed in phase one. A broad group of stakeholders, including new market entrants operating 'beyond the meter', is testing the 35 functions identified against predicted future requirements. The project is asking the following questions:

  • How can we validate and refine the functionality required?
  • What are the costs or risks of delays or failing to deliver?
  • How might drivers and requirements change in the medium term?

New work is underway by one of the FPSA work packages to define the Enabling Frameworks through which the new functionality could be implemented as part of a transition pathway to the much more flexible and intelligent power system architecture we will need by the 2030s.

FPSA2 Work Packages

FPSA2 consists of six work packages:

Work Package Description FPSA champion


Stakeholder engagement: an exploration of stakeholders’ current and future needs and their contributions to the whole system, identifying and classifying any misalignments between stakeholders’ objectives and those of the established industry.                                                                                                                       Mike Kay 
    2 Functional analysis: checking the validity and completeness of functions identified in FPSA phase one and examining options for further R&D to assist delivery, especially of no-regrets measures. Phil  Lawton                                              
    3 Impact analysis: Identifying the barriers to developing and implementing the functions within current sector processes and assessing the impact of late or non-delivery. Dave Openshaw
    4 Enabling framework identification: defining how the future system functionality could be enabled to meet various and changing needs in a changing landscape, including proposed trials. Duncan Botting
    5 Synthesis and methodology: managing the project, ensuring the proper integration of the work streams and successful synthesis into a final report and other deliverables. Gordon Graham
    6 Communications and dissemination: ensuring the project’s purpose and findings are expressed clearly and are accessible to diverse audiences and appropriate for all stakeholders. John Scott

FPSA2 Project Schedule

FPSA2 commenced in November 2016 and will be delivered in three stages that will complete at the end of March 2017, with a period of knowledge-sharing activity to follow. Subject to a review, the FPSA may then continue into further phases. 

FPSA2 Project Deliverables

A key purpose of FPSA2 is to do groundwork for further work which will map out the delivery of new power system functionality in more specific terms, by defining and testing the 'Enabling Frameworks' concept. These are proposed as the mechanisms for implementing new functionality in a complex landscape, for example where there are ‘whole-system’ aspects that fall across traditional boundaries of ownership and sector governance mechanisms. Cross-system challenges include data sharing, cyber security and developments (such as electric vehicle charging) that can have impact on system security at a local network level and, if coordinated nationally by, say, price signals, could sum up to have adverse impact on system balancing at national level. The ultimate aim is to develop potential pathways for Britain’s power system architecture from now to 2030.

The main outputs of FPSA2 will be:

  • a primary report that includes the main outputs and findings and supplementary reports from specific work packages as appropriate
  • a documented description of ‘Enabling Frameworks’ to deliver key functionality – these would be developed further under subsequent phases
  • a set of recommendations for taking forward the outputs from FPSA2 to develop viable transition pathways
  • a stage gate go/no-go review of FPSA2 that will consider the case for progressing to further phases.


Please direct any enquiries to the FPSA project office at the Energy Systems Catapult via fpsa@es.catapult.org.uk or the IET via energy@theiet.org

* Whole-systems approaches take general energy objectives, such as decarbonisation or security of supply, and consider actions to meet these objectives holistically rather than within a narrow field of interest or silo. They consider “the set of technologies, physical infrastructure, institutions, policies and practices which enable energy services to be delivered to consumers” (adapted from UK EPSRC definition).