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Powering future infrastructure

Powering future infrastructure

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The growing contribution of renewables to the UK energy mix means that electricity is an increasingly vital route to ‘low to no carbon’ energy. This and the ever increasing role of electrical and electronic products and services (electric cars being a key example), means the future of the UK’s energy infrastructure depends on how well we deploy electrical energy. If the challenge of the last decade was how to produce enough low carbon electricity, the challenge ahead will increasingly be how to store, distribute and use it.

The good news for the electrical contracting sector is that installing and maintaining renewables, and ensuring that their electrical output can be safely and efficiently stored, distributed and used, is very much our business. This applies to any form of renewable energy, such as solar, wind, hydroelectric and tidal, and the centralised sources of lower carbon electricity such as nuclear. All this means considerable commercial opportunities for our industry. It also means we have a lot to offer government and clients.

Major new parliamentary report

 Against this backdrop, the ECA recently welcomed a report on future energy provision by the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change (ECC) Committee. The report put forward a series of recommendations to the government, aimed at boosting the UK’s energy storage capacity and improving demand side response (DSR) which enables customers to alter electricity use at peak times.

ECC Committee Chair Angus MacNeil MP said: “The government must… encourage the energy market to embrace ‘smart’ technology solutions, such as energy storage and demand side response. There is an incredible opportunity for the UK to become a world leader in these disruptive technologies.” The report underlines that the UK energy picture is changing fast, and that it’s no longer just enough to look at our capacity to produce electrical and other energy. It recognises that once electrical energy becomes sufficiently cheap to store at scale, the UK energy picture will change rapidly, with major knock-on effects to the UK electrical distribution network. It also signposts to the sort of distribution network we need, if supply is going to continue to meet increasing and changing demand.

Energy Infrastructure Group

Going forward, and whether we are considering energy generation, storage, distribution or use, the ECA aims to provide government and other stakeholders with practical input on the development of UK electrical energy infrastructure. To support this activity, we will soon be setting up an Energy Infrastructure Group. It is intended that this Group will become an authoritative ‘think tank’ for the ECA and the wider electrical industry, and more information will follow in early 2017.

Please email paul.reeve@eca.co.uk if you would like to be kept updated on plans for the Energy Infrastructure Group