An innovative modelling tool developed by power engineering specialist EA Technology has predicted that UK networks and consumers could save up to £10billion in the period up to 2050 by deploying smart grids.
The Transform Model – recognised by industry bodies such as Ofgem and the Energy Networks Association as the world’s leading techno-economic modelling tool for electricity networks – determines the best investments for Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to ensure that the grid can sufficiently meet future network demands.
Mark Sprawson, Head of Advanced Network Solutions at EA Technology, said: “The figure of £10billion was worked out by examining the costs of performing network upgrades in a ‘conventional way’ and comparing them using smart technologies that are within the Transform Model.
“After populating the model with the four published government scenarios for how the country will achieve the 2050 carbon reduction targets, we found that the average saving of the UK going smart was £10billion.
“As an example, if every DNO used the smart technology recommended by the Transform Model, Britain would avoid laying 28,000km of cable by 2030 – the equivalent of laying a cable from the UK to Australia and back again.”
The outputs of the Transform Model will result in a saving of c£200m in network expenditure over the period 2015-2023.
Mark said: “If DNOs had not used the Transform Model, the cost for this period would have been £1.2billion, rather than the £1bn planned expenditure given. This is a saving of an extra £200m the networks would have needed from Ofgem and, by extension, consumers.”
The model, initiated by the DECC/Ofgem Smartgrid Forum in 2012 and developed by EA Technology, has been designed to determine the level of electrical network investment required to support the potential forecast of low carbon technologies such as electric vehicles, heat pumps and solar panels.
Mark said: “The Transform Model is a parametric representation of an electricity network in Great Britain, and is built on data derived from a number of sources. These include distribution networks, local authorities, central government and a range of other sources, allowing the model to understand the current demands on the electricity grid.
“The model then overlays onto this network the anticipated future demands that will come from various low carbon technologies, considering both ‘conventional solutions’ and ‘smart solutions’. These are modelled side by side, and the best value options are selected.”
The model is continually updated with new data sets and enhancements to ensure that only the latest information is used and the results are always valid.
Dave A Roberts, Future Networks Director at EA Technology, said: “The Transform Model is positioning itself as a vital tool for easing Britain into its low-carbon future, and we believe it has the potential to be rolled out on a global scale.
“Low carbon technologies, such as electric vehicles, heat pumps and photo-voltaic generation, will alter the way in which we consume and produce energy. The results that are coming through are tremendously exciting, and paint a really positive picture of the benefit Britain will reap by adopting low carbon technologies and smart solutions.”