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Podcast S17E08

Innovation in electricity distribution networks – a cellular, community approach

Beautiful view of Robin Hood's Bay cottages against green mountains in England

Electricity distribution networks will face increasing challenges as electrification gathers pace and more and more distributed generation emerges. In this episode, Jon Slowe explores both these challenges and how a ground-breaking innovation project, Community DSO, is set to address these challenges, with guests from Northern Powergrid, consultancy TNEI and LCP Delta.

Episode transcript

[00:00:04] – Jon Slowe

Welcome to Talking New Energy, a podcast from LCP Delta. The new energy experts. In the podcast, we'll be exploring how the energy transition is unfolding across Europe through conversations with guests from the leading edge of the transition.

 

[00:00:21] – Jon Slowe

Hello and welcome to the podcast. Regular listeners will know that one of the main themes we talk about is the increasing decentralisation of the energy system and how we're moving from a system in the past with tens, many, maybe many tens of large assets, to a system with millions and millions of small assets in commercial buildings, in customers’ homes, et cetera. So, today we're looking at networks and the specific challenges around accommodating all of these distributed assets. As electrification picks up, as we have more and more photovoltaics (PV) installed, we're already seeing networks in some countries struggling with this, where networks are becoming saturated. It's becoming difficult to connect PV to networks. And winding forward, I think we'll see challenges around connecting high powered electric vehicle (EV) chargers, electric heating to networks. As networks becoming more and more congested at the same time, these local distributed assets need to be, or could be coordinated to bring value to networks. Who is going to do all of this? Who is going to manage the network constraints, coordinate all the local assets? Well, in some ways, DSOs (Distribution System Operators) are the most local type of organisation in the electricity system today.

 

So, can DSOs use their local presence to enable and support this aspect of the energy transition? I've got four guests joining me to explore this and I'll introduce them. Not all at the beginning as I normally do, but start with my colleague, LCP Delta colleague Andrew Conway. Hello, Andrew.

 

[00:02:13] – Andrew Conway

Hi there, Jon.

 

[00:02:15] – Jon Slowe

Andrew, I've outlined in the introduction this big challenge that is already with DSOs, but I think will be more and more with DSOs in the future. Are policy and regulatory policymakers regulators, are they ahead of the curve with this? Are they anticipating? Are they starting to respond? Can you give our listeners a brief picture of how you see that?

 

[00:02:45] – Andrew Conway

Yeah, sure. Thanks for that, Jon. Yeah, it's an interesting question about whether policymakers are ahead of the curve or following. I think we're seeing kind of three really key areas where policy and regulation is starting to develop in this area. I think just before I kind of get into that, just a little step back, just to say really why this is kind of significant for me in terms of the investment that's needed in the network infrastructure, it's both about getting that investment in, but also about using the networks efficiently as well. So, we've always said around 20% of the energy system costs are in the network and some recent studies have said around 40 billion pounds of investment in the UK infrastructure is needed by 2035. So quite significant.

 

[00:03:44] – Jon Slowe

Huge amount of sums.

 

[00:03:45] – Andrew Conway

Yeah, but yeah, back to these kind of three areas of policy. So, the first one I think about is the move towards more local energy planning and the institutions that are needed for that. So, we're seeing a lot in the UK around local area energy planning that's been funded by governments, but also enabled by the networks and by Ofgem and some evolving institutions. Ofgem has now published a consultation proposing to institute a set of regional system planners. So, these will be about trying to understand what the energy system is going to become and crucially, what network you need to enable that. So that is really about driving that investment.

 

[00:04:41] – Jon Slowe

So that's not coming full circle back to a centralised plan system, but that's bringing an element of planning and coordination at that local, regional level.

 

[00:04:49] – Andrew Conway

Yeah, and I think critically, it's about the kind of (phone rings) sorry about that.

 

[00:04:59] – Jon Slowe

So that's bringing and it's not going full circle back to a centralised plan system, but it's about bringing an element of planning and coordination at that local or regional level.

 

[00:05:09] – Andrew Conway

Yeah, that's right. And I think, crucially, it's about the facilitation across different local actors, so local government bodies and engagement with the network companies to do that.

 

[00:05:23] – Jon Slowe

Okay, so first point, more local regional coordination, and the institutions around that.

 

[00:05:29] – Andrew Conway

Exactly, yeah. I think the second point to say is that the development of local markets, so that's local markets for flexibility or energy trading, and the network companies have been heavily involved in this. And this is really about driving the efficient use of the network. So, there's examples of different auctions and tenders for flexibility, but also new kind of markets so that the buy trader.

 

[00:05:58] – Jon Slowe

Almost trading capacity. So not everyone needs the capacity at the same time. So, can you trade that and get the most out of the network capacity you got?

 

[00:06:08] – Andrew Conway

Exactly. Capacity and access to the network as well. Yes, there's also new thinking around flexibility exchanges or centralised platforms to enable that. And then the third point, I think, is the kind of evolution of network charging or kind of incentives around signalling to people around network constraints. Okay, so a couple of things. There really are, again, just thinking about Ofgem's network charging reforms, looking at how to signal to users when there are constraints on the network and how to charge for that as a long running reform where they haven't decided what they're going to do. And also thinking wider discussions around locational, marginal pricing, which would be effectively splitting the wholesale market and really localising that, localising that, and including the constraints in the network in how you develop the market pricing.

 

[00:07:22] – Jon Slowe

So, the UK regulator, I think, is relatively progressive when we look across Europe, and from what you've said, Andrew, I think people always complain about policy and regulation and it's not moving fast enough, but it is progressing to incorporate these local distributed or the change we're getting to a much more localised system. I'd like to bring on my second guest now, Laura Brown from Northern Powergrid. Hello, Laura.

 

[00:07:49] – Laura Brown

Hello there, Jon. How are you doing?

 

[00:07:50] – Jon Slowe

Good. Thanks for joining us. Laura, could you start just by telling us in a nutshell what you do at Northern Powergrid and also for listeners that don't know Northern Powergrid?

 

[00:08:04] – Laura Brown

So, as you mentioned, my name is Laura Brown. My job role is a commercial manager for flexibility services and that's part of Northern Powergrid's team is trying to utilise some of these markets that we spoke about there. And it's an ever-evolving area, but we are tendering for flexibility at some parts of our network where we need flexibility, or we need additional support in a particular area. And that's in just a counter to traditional reinforcement that we could do, like building more assets or upgrading equipment, we can use flexibility as an additional tool to help manage that. So that's kind of what I'm doing in my role at the moment. Northern Powergrid itself is the electricity distribution network for the Northeast of England, Tees Valley, Yorkshire, and Northern Lincolnshire. And we own and operate the electricity distribution network for two of the 14 electricity distribution licence areas in Great Britain. And our role is to deliver power safely and reliably to over 8 million customers across 3.9 million homes and businesses in our network.

 

[00:09:14] – Jon Slowe

So, you're at the I use this word and it doesn't fit with the energy transition, but you're at the coalface of a lot of these changes happening to networks. Did I exaggerate? Sometimes I do exaggerate for effect, but at the beginning of the podcast with my description, do you see this impending challenge or the challenges that you're facing becoming bigger and bigger as we get more and more of these distributed assets on the network?

 

[00:09:47] – Laura Brown

Definitely so, and I think it's been recognised in several areas and it's still waiting for some final decisions. What are we going to do with the gas network, particularly in our region? We're particularly reliant on gas for heating. What happens if the decision about the gas network is that we're going to still continue to try and decarbonise heat, so we will definitely need new electricity assets to support that. So, there's definitely a feeling that we'll be growing the network. We're also a region is the home to the Nissan car plant, and we've got a huge Envision battery plant here as well, who's expanding so a lot. We're kind of the home of the electric vehicle in the UK, so there's loads of electric vehicles. We've got a very vast electricity charging infrastructure in this region, so we're seeing that first-hand at our coal face, as you say. I think that the big increase in volume of different technologies will really be in the home and that's where it becomes interesting. Hence the Community DSO project that we might discuss later. But they're certainly at this early stage of the journey of flexibility. We're looking for large generators and large energy users to try and maybe manage their behaviour or manage their output or input of electricity to help us manage the network more efficiently. So, it's proven very successful and helpful.

 

[00:11:23] – Jon Slowe

Good. Well, something is that if you wound back ten years, even I think ten years, then this would all be radical and brand new. It's quite a rate of change amongst network operators to embrace these new tools and ways of getting the most out of their network.

 

[00:11:40] – Laura Brown

Yeah, it's interesting that I started in this sector about 15 years ago and the energy policy in the UK was that solar power doesn't work, so we won't do that. I don't know if anyone ever read that energy policy, but I was working in the PV research area and going, I'm pretty sure we've got light in the sky, I'm pretty sure it does work. And then when you got the economics right and the policy right, so we had an incentive to encourage people to deploy photovoltaics (PV) and all of a sudden, the market was right, the policy was right, and then we got a whole and we've had a very successful PV sector in this country. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think we're over ten-gigawatt peak of installed capacity nowadays. So, if you get the policy and the markets right, it can be really successful.

 

[00:12:33] – Jon Slowe

We do have a lot of PV. We've just completed some research looking at the residential PV and how much residential PV there is per household across different countries. And the UK has actually got one of the lower figures amongst Europe. So even though we've got a lot, I think there could well be a lot more to come. Laura and Andrew, we talked a bit about some of the tools and techniques being used to manage these challenges, but let's move on to this project you mentioned, Laura, community DSO. So, one of the things the regulator I think has done really well in the UK is this innovation funding. And Community DSO is one of those big innovation projects to explore new ways of working new technologies, new models. What is Community do at DSO Laura and how does it play into the challenges that you have just been talking about?

 

[00:13:35] – Laura Brown

Well, Community DSO is a network innovation project funded in part by Ofgem to the tune of 14.5 million pounds. And it's a five-year demonstration project to see if we can find ways to deal with this volume of new interconnected technologies that people will have in their households and how we can help the communities themselves deploy these. So, the concept was born out of some collaborative thinking between us and our partners, LCP Delta and TNEI, and that was trying to answer that challenge of how the DNO can coordinate these. Basically, what's going to be a vast array of interactive energy generation, energy storage and energy management devices that our customers will need to deploy in their homes and businesses to meet net zero. In essence, I can give you a wee bit of a snapshot of what I think it is in essence, but in essence it's a solution to organise the network, the distribution network, into energy communities of a size and scale that allows communities to coordinate almost possibly autonomously, but certainly semi-autonomously. And that means that they can make choices for what each community would like to do, rather than what's dictated to by policy or by our network constraints.

 

And where the communities would interact with the network would be in a common node point and maybe similar to a secondary substation level on our network at the moment. And that helps the DNO deal with the volume challenge because the communities themselves are helping to be part of the coordination element of the challenge.

 

[00:15:25] – Jon Slowe

So, it's breaking down the network in a way into a number of cells or different cells.

 

[00:15:30] – Laura Brown

Exactly, yeah.

 

[00:15:31] – Jon Slowe

Well, at this point I'd like to introduce my two other guests. Stephanie Hay from TNEI.

 

[00:15:38] – Stephanie Hay

Hi, Jon. How are you?

 

[00:15:40] – Jon Slowe

Good, thanks. And Tom Veli from colleague at LCP Delta. Hi Tom.

 

[00:15:43] – Tom Veli

Hi Jon.

 

[00:15:45] – Jon Slowe

So, we've had that sort of broad picture description from Laura. Stephanie and then Tom, would you like to sort of share one aspect of the project that you think that you're particularly excited about or you think is particularly innovative or is a key part of the solution to integrating all of these assets that we've been talking about?

 

[00:16:09] – Stephanie Hay

Yeah, certainly so, yeah, I'm Stephanie Hay, I'm the Director of Networks and Innovation at TNEI and we are one of the project partners on the Community DSO project that Laura mentioned. So, I think just touching on the sort of introduction and basically the theme of the discussion so far about the huge challenges ahead for networks and I think there's been challenges there for a number of years, but we're seeing more and more of them down at the lower voltage networks. So, these are vast, vast networks with cables and overhead lines, substations, where essentially the networks, they have minimal visibility of these assets. These are the cables that run into people's homes. So, you're talking millions and millions of assets. So, that's a key thing that a lot of the network companies have identified in their business plans that they need more visibility at this level if they're going to have any chance of sort of managing the transition of people converting to EVs and heat pumps, et cetera. So, I think what the community DSO project will do in that respect is we've got the network companies from the sort of top down, they're wanting to know more about their network, they want to have better visibility, be able to manage it going forward with the proliferation of these technologies.

 

But then you've got the customer who wants more control over their energy supply. They want more control over their energy choices and more recently, more control over their energy costs. So, they are making decisions about installing solar PV and batteries alongside their other sort of dead edge technologies. And I think what community DSO can and will do successfully is marry these two. So, it will take that sort of top-down network requirements and like Laura was saying, make it more manageable, so make a more manageable volume of sales that the networks can interface with. But then also it'll offer the customers a framework within which they themselves, within their communities can participate in a local energy system. So, I think the key thing that the project is going to do is trial these. So, there's four technical trials that are going to be done. They're going to be different across the board in terms of location, network topology, so urban and rural networks can be quite different. There's going to be a mix of demand and generation and network constraints put in there just to sort of test different things, and a mix of participation levels because some customers are very keen to get involved in all of this and some customers just, they're not particularly interested.

 

So, you have to account for that sort of human element as well. And what the trials will really do is test what technology do we need, what hardware and software do we need, what kind of commercial aspects do we need in terms of trading? So, one community has a surplus of generation so they can trade it with another community that has a need for this generation and then also test the levels of participation themselves. So, ultimately what we want to learn is how does this trade in of energy and requirements and needs at a node work, what does the network need and what does the community need? And this is all leading to essentially a framework of what Laura was saying about choice. So, a framework whereby regardless of the choices that these communities want to make, so they might want to, you know, build a solar system to serve their local community, but they don't really have much interest in making loads of money or anything like that. The framework will be a set of rules and requirements that okay, you need this hardware, this software, these trading arrangements and then you can go off on your merry way and they can achieve what they want to achieve whilst also interfacing successfully with the network.

 

So, it eases the burden on the network, and it gives more power to the communities. So, I think that's ultimately what we're trying to do.

 

[00:20:33] – Jon Slowe

And I like the way you describe in a way it reduces the problem down to something manageable because if you've got a DNO or DSO with the millions of households that you have Laura, then you can't have a centralised command or control approach to that. You need to decentralise the approach to how you integrate and manage that, and hence the sales concept that you just described, Stephanie.

 

[00:21:00] – Stephanie Hay

Yeah. And one of the other things that the project will look into is these cells can be any size, I think. So, we're not quite sure how much we're going to be able to make it manageable, but it will certainly be more manageable than the millions of houses that Laura mentioned.

 

[00:21:19] – Jon Slowe

Tom, over to you. Yeah.

 

[00:21:21] – Tom Veli

Just touching on Stephanie's point on the variety of cells, and there's no size that fits all. One of the beauties of community DSO is that we're going to trial four different types of cells. So that's rather exciting. I think for me, what's really exciting about community DSO is the potential of accelerating connections. So, if we take an example of a cell and a community, if they have a capacity level that they need to adhere to, but they can connect what they want in that cell, that effectively accelerates the connection of the likes of EVs and heat pumps and some possible generation. And it's no secret we're seeing it in the news quite a lot over the last up to 12-18 months about the connection delays and the connection challenges. And I think having that peace of mind so for example, Laura, in Northern Powergrid, having that peace of mind, if a community can sort of manage their generation and their demand within a certain capacity and enable customers to Operate Their electric vehicles and heat pumps. I think. Yeah, that's great.

 

[00:22:51] – Jon Slowe

Tom is the right way to think about it than that you've got. Effectively, each cell is a mini network that has to be managed and kept within its capacity constraints.

 

[00:23:00] – Tom Veli

Absolutely, yeah. And that sort of touches on the different characteristics of what a cell is. You could be in an urban area or in a complete rural area being a different cell, but in some way, you might be able to complement one another in an aggregated fashion as well.

 

[00:23:23] – Jon Slowe

Laura, what do your colleagues think of this with a Northern Powergrid? Because it's quite a radical approach to a distribution network.

 

[00:23:32] – Laura Brown

I think there's, for those who are a bit worried about this volume, we mentioned the volume of connections, but also the volume of data that comes from Smart Technologies. They see this as a really good facilitation, a way to facilitate and coordinate the information that's available. And we're also really pleased about the model that we're using for this. As Stephanie mentioned, you can actively participate in this, or you could maybe not actively participate, but you're willing to share the data about your household with us to help us better manage the cell. Or you're maybe not in a position, whether because you're a vulnerable person yourself or you're just too busy to deal with another layer of complexity in your life. So, we're able to model these households rather than them participating. So, what we really like about this is it's a very inclusive approach. Everyone in the community can take part, whether they want to be actively involved or not. And what we also like is that we're sharing communities to take this ownership, if you like, of their energy system. We're able as a network company because of that control that they're providing and helping us with we're able to share this saving with us through the market system. So, through the DSO markets, if they can achieve that coordination, we can share that as a market service to the community. So, they're benefiting. They're taking their share in the savings that's made and that helps incentivise them to build more equipment. It could be a really good incentive. And I think while we've made great strides in encouraging large generation and large energy storage, I think we've failed to at the moment, there's not a clear mechanism to incentivise households to get involved in the energy system. And I think this could if we get it to work, it could be a really good change, maybe as good as the feed and tariff. That's what I hope. No pressure. No pressure, anyone?

 

[00:25:45] – Jon Slowe

I guess it's an innovation project. It's pushing new boundaries and it doesn't mean it's all going to be straightforward. There's a lot to learn and find out. Andrew, coming back to the policy and regulation, it's a five-year project. Thinking of speed, how quickly do you think policy and regulation could, if this is successful, to take the learnings from it and then drive that into the regulatory framework, drive that into policy, can you see that happening quite quickly or do you worry about the time that's going to take?

 

[00:26:21] – Andrew Conway

So, it's interesting just hearing a bit more because I've been sort of tangentially involved in the project, but not heavily. So interesting hearing more about what Laura and Stephanie had to say there. And really it made me think about actually, so I spent about four or five years at Ofgem, and two projects there were particularly related to this. So, one was around network charging and the struggles with how do you actually provide signals through network charging? And then the second one was around sort of local energy institutions and what kind of different models you could implement? And then when I saw this community DSO project, it sort of blew my mind a little bit, just in the way that actually it can really solve both sets of problems there, or at least feed into both sets of problems there. Stephanie, when you were talking about the sort of top-down to bottom-up approach there, where you've got both communities and the network kind of working together, it wasn't something we had really thought that much about Ofgem. And I think that's one of the parts for me which has been really sort of interesting and exciting, I think, in terms of the future, we're just about going into Ed, or we've gone into Ed two now, so it's getting.

 

[00:27:50] – Jon Slowe

A bit UK techie, but that's the next regulatory period for how network charges and networks are regulated.

 

[00:27:57] – Andrew Conway

Yeah, that's right. And I would expect that Ofgem should be really looking at this and looking at the outputs of this and in terms of maybe the next regulatory period. So, I think the periods are four years, they've got about five years.

 

[00:28:22] – Stephanie Hay

Yeah. So, this should be coming to an end just about when the next period starting. So that would be the hope.

 

[00:28:30] – Jon Slowe

So, the learnings should flow into the next regulatory time frame, and I think.

 

[00:28:36] – Andrew Conway

Often are open to looking at actually revising how they do their network regulation with the things about flexibility and new institutional frameworks they're talking about. I think they are and should be open to the learnings of this.

 

[00:28:58] – Laura Brown

It's fair to say that we've designed the project so that the technologies are it's an old phrase, but off the shelf. These are novel technologies, but they're available, they're commercially available, there's just not a market incentive to utilise them. They can be costly, certainly for a whole energy system, a local energy system. It's a hefty investment decision. But the key thing is it's available. It's not something that we need to trial. What we're trialling here is the deployment of it really. It's a demonstration trial, it's not a let's see if this gadget will work in this household. We know these technologies work already, so it's a benefit, I think.

 

[00:29:43] – Jon Slowe

Yeah, I think we've got enough widgets and technologies and gadgets for the energy transfer. The next

 

[00:29:51] – Laura Brown

Certainly my house (laughter)

 

[00:29:57] – Jon Slowe

It's how we deploy them, how we organise them, how they work together. That's a critical aspect, I think.

 

[00:29:59] – Laura Brown

Exactly, and I think that's helpful too. And we've also had a lot of interest from so although this is a project in our area, we've got support from UKPN, so they're the network company that covers the Southeast and London area. They're also playing a supporting role in this project and seeing how they can learn from it at the early stages. But I'm very fortunate to work in a very collaborative sector so that all the DNOs work really closely together, so they're quick to see if there's a win somewhere that they can also deploy. So, I'm confident that if we can make a good job, certainly even of the early trials, I think we'll get early adopters from the other DNOs as well and the National Grid ESO, they are extremely interested as well. Because for them balancing the whole system, they've got to really get down to a household level as well. And that's hard for them to penetrate down. So, again, they are extremely interested in what the outcomes of this are. So, again, no pressure, guys.

 

[00:31:05] – Jon Slow

Well, Stephanie and Tom must both be very excited to be working with Laura in the next years. And what you look the ground-breaking work you're looking to do.

 

[00:31:13] – Tom Veli

Yeah, very much so.

 

[00:31:15] – Stephanie Hay

Yeah. At TNEI, we do a lot of innovation, and these are the kind of projects that we really love doing, because it's one of the ones that you're innovating and you're coming up with new ideas and all. Of that, but you actually get to see it through to deployment ultimately and see it making a difference, which I think is really important.

 

[00:31:33] – Jon Slowe

Well, it's come to that time of the podcast where we need to bring up the talking new energy crystal ball. And I'll set the dial this week to, I think, 2033, ten years’ time. And my question to each of you is, can you share one observation about what will be different when we think about electricity distribution networks in 2023 compared to today? So, one thing that's different in 2033 and one of the key challenges that was overcome for that to happen. So, let's go Tom, Andrew, Laura and then Stephanie.

 

[00:32:21] – Tom Veli

So, I think 2033, did we say?

 

[00:32:25] – Jon Slowe

Yeah, ten years’ time.

 

[00:32:26] – Tom Veli

Ten years’ time. So, I think Northern Powergrid and the other networks will be offering same day connections to all of its customers. (laughter)

 

[00:32:41] – Jon Slowe

Key thing that will have to happen for that key enabler, the key challenge that was overcome.

 

[00:32:45] – Tom Veli

Yeah, the key enabler and the key challenge, and Stephanie's touched on it, is visibility. And I know Ofgem, our regulator, are very hot on this subject and network visibility is key. To enable connections, the networks need to see what's on their network and what capacity is a greater granularity and whether that's just touching on the cells that we're doing. Under Community DSO, we've got managed monitored modelling, so having those three cell types gives you that greater visibility. And I think once there is more of that, connections can happen much, much quicker.

 

[00:33:31] – Jon Slowe

I like the bold vision of same day connections. You've got a hat.

 

[00:33:35] – Tom veli

I'm waiting for some abuse now, but yeah.

 

[00:33:40] – Jon Slowe

Laura, do you want to go next ten years’ time? One thing that will be different.

 

[00:33:44] – Laura Brown

So, I think what will be significantly different is everyone's comfortableness with data and this volume of data that we're going to have to tackle. Industries such as manufacturing already deal with huge volumes of data without thinking about it. I think the energy sector has got a huge learning curve to go on that, and the ones who crack the data nut will be in a much better position. So, I feel that we'll have a much better visibility. It comes down to visibility again, we'll have the tools at our disposal that help us make the right decisions, where at the moment, we rely on a lot in modelling and sometimes the modelling in reality is still a step away from reality. So, I think the real-time data will help make our decision making clearer and more useful to each different part of the country.

 

[00:34:36] – Jon Slowe

The key challenge to overcome, to becoming that data centric organisation and unleashing the power of. All that data.

 

[00:34:43] – Laura Brown

So, I think we touched on earlier, it is about governance, about trusting the people who have the decision-making powers, and not necessarily that having to be someone who sits in an office in London. It could be local decision makers feeling confident that they've got enough information to make sound decisions on what our systems need to look like.

 

[00:35:06] – Jon Slowe

So, decentralising decision making?

 

[00:35:08] – Laura Brown

I think so, yeah.

 

[00:35:10] – Jon Slowe

Okay. Thanks, Laura. Andrew?

 

[00:35:13] – Andrew Conway

Yeah, I think one change we could see is, I suppose, almost an opening up of networks. And that data provision, where you have most, if not all, of the distribution network is actually some kind of local market, local energy market, whether that's a kind of community DSO operation or a more kind of private company or platform operating that. And I think that is going to lead to much more efficient use of the network. So that 40 billion pounds I talked about earlier maybe doesn't need to be.

 

[00:35:55] – Jon Slowe

The 40, could be 30 billion.

 

[00:35:57] – Andrew Conway

So, we can maybe reduce the cost of the energy transition in that way.

 

[00:36:02] – Jon Slowe

And the key thing we overcame in the next ten years to get to.

 

[00:36:06] – Andrew Conway

That point yeah, I think maybe data and the regulatory framework that needs to adapt to that.

 

[00:36:14] – Jon Slowe

Okay, so we had a fast-moving visionary regulator in the UK, maybe they are today, I think I'm not saying they're not, but continuing that trend.

 

[00:36:23] – Andrew Conway

Yeah. With that data provision and access to data there as well.

 

[00:36:28] – Jon Slowe

Yeah. Thanks, Andrew. Last but not least, Stephanie. What's different in ten years’ time?

 

[00:36:34] – Stephanie Hay

Something that I hope will be different is customer everyday people participation in the energy transition. So, I do still think there's a lot of scepticism about the energy transition, what we're trying to achieve net zero, and how individual people and families can play a role in that. So, another thing is cost. So, speaking from experience, so I have an electric vehicle and a heat pump, and I was trying to do the right thing, trying to play my part, but these things are really expensive. I was told I would save loads of money because my heat pump is really efficient, and then two months later, the price of electricity went through the roof. So, it's incentivising the right behaviours that we want, and I think providing more accessibility to people, to these technologies or the technologies that we want them to adopt ultimately. So, I think people, as I say, they're still sceptical of what we're trying to achieve. They don't want to feel as if they're being pushed into making choices. If we're taking away the option to buy petrol vehicles, I don't think that's necessarily the right way to go. So, I think in ten years, hopefully, there's more trust like what I was saying, there's more trust in what we're trying to do and why we're trying to do it.

 

[00:38:09] – Jon Slowe

That trust is a key enabler isn't necessarily always there today,

 

[00:38:16] – Stephanie Hay

No and I think how we can address that is more transparency with the network companies. I think certainly over the last six months, with everything that's been going on, with the price of energy and the cost-of-living crisis, I think it's a very us versus them sort of mentality. And I think a lot of that trust has been lost. And I think it would be really important to build that back up again.

 

[00:38:40] – Jon Slowe

And the Community DSO gives a model or a framework from which to do that.

 

[00:38:47] – Stephanie Hay

Yeah,

 

[00:38:50] – Jon Slowe

Okay, well, we better draw it to a close there. There's a huge amount we could carry on talking about with networks, Community DSO. If you're interested in the project, I think you can just Google it and you'll find more information and we may feature it again on the podcast as some of the learnings start to become clear. So, thanks very much to Laura, to Stephanie, to Tom and to Andrew. Thanks for joining us and sharing your time and expertise. Thanks to everyone for listening. We hope you enjoyed it, and it's got you thinking a bit more about the future of networks and you've got some new ideas and inspiration for how networks might evolve as the energy transition powers forward. Thanks for listening everyone, and goodbye.

 

[00:39:31] – Jon Slowe

If you enjoy the podcast, then please rate it and share it with your friends and colleagues. If you're as passionate about the energy transition as we are, then you can keep in touch with us and look at our research, insights, podcast, transcripts and download reports all at www.lcpdelta.com.

 

 


LCP Delta is excited to announce our upcoming webinar for the recently launched Community DSO project with Northern Powergrid and TNEI. The Community DSO project webinar will take place on 4th May, 13:00-14:00, register here to attend. This webinar is the ideal way to be introduced to the project and to find out how your community or organisation could get involved. We are particularly interested in hearing from energy communities based in the North East of England and businesses that could lead or contribute to trials as part of the project. At the webinar we will be launching a request for information (RFI) process to identify further partners and subcontractors.

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