Could microgrids be a part of UK’s energy system?

Microgrids could be “a part of a number” of solutions for the UK’s transition from a traditional energy system. That’s according to Peter Jones, Technology Strategy Manager at ABB, who […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

Microgrids could be “a part of a number” of solutions for the UK’s transition from a traditional energy system.

That’s according to Peter Jones, Technology Strategy Manager at ABB, who told ELN: “I think it has a place and I think based on the signals that we are seeing it could potentially rapidly be applied. I think circumstances may drive its applications as well as its cost effectiveness. The external signals, the macro signals suggest these sort of solutions are going to have to be put in place potentially quickly.”

A microgrid is a local energy grid with control capability. It can disconnect from the national grid and operate independently. It can be powered by distributed generators, batteries and renewables.

According to Mr Jones, the company’s successful deployment of microgrids in the country are based on the government’s energy trilemma.

He went on: “This is environment, security and cost. It’s absolutely essential so we are looking to see how does it fit with the trilemma triangle because if it doesn’t fit it won’t happen.”

However Colin Green, Head of Regulatory Affairs and Technology for the UK at ABB, believes there are still some barriers for deployment of the technology.

He said: “I think the discussion right now is microgrid is a solution. It has a number of challenges, things like the discussions around energy storage. Some of those are regulatory barriers, some of those are commercial barriers, some of those are just the legacy issues in terms of how the UK system is structured.

“What we do see is that the discussion is how do you make things sufficiently flexible to accommodate the emerging technologies, which it seems to be where things are at the moment. The issue right now is just making sure that the market is sufficiently flexible to allow all those solutions to co-exist in the right environment.”

Mr Green added microgrids could “potentially” cut costs: “There are potentially significant financial benefits in terms of reducing costs to consumers. That can be in a number of forms in terms of the cost of installing large centralised plants that you avoid by optimising the system, avoiding reinforcement costs in the network, being able to get a more resilient localised system by being able to store energy and use it rather than just following the price of energy at the point of which you need to consume it.

“There’s a whole range of different financial drivers. What we are doing at the moment is going through that process of discussing with different organisations to understand how that value will look at different parts of the value chain to understand what the overall impact is.”