How Power Transition Facilitates “The 4Ds” To Grid Fitness
As the net-zero target approaches, it is essential to consider the impact of how we generate, distribute and manage energy demand across the nation and beyond. “The 4Ds” (Decarbonisation, Digitalisation, Decentralisation and Democratisation) are the foundations of the UK energy sector innovation strategy. Achieving these goals will require innovative solutions to integrate stakeholders, connect devices and assets and enable participants to securely share data. In this article we discuss how Power Transition’s Digital Energy Platform contributes to the 4D’s.
Who would have believed back in the early teenies, that the National Grid ESO were going to come up with an ambitious plan to become zero carbon by 2025? Yet here we are, just five years to go and it’s already started, albeit with the inclusion of large-scale biomass plants/power plants which will inevitably fall out of favour as the data and impact are further scrutinised. The many national grids across Europe already operate interconnectors which allow them to balance the supply across borders, taking advantage of where excess renewable energy is being produced, either to switch out fossil fuel generation or to power pumped hydro and other storage assets. By 2025 the UK grid aims to be carbon free and rapid innovation will be needed to lead the way as the smartest grid in the world.
So how does Power Transition’s platform address Decarbonisation? As part of the decarbonisation process, legacy fossil fuel generators will close and the energy shortfall will be replaced with mixed renewables that include PVs, wind, micro hydro, CHP in conjunction with greater energy storage facilities. These are known collectively as DERs or Distributed Energy Resources. With all this new distributed energy generation and storage it will be necessary to provide active grid management and synchronously manage in real time intermittent supply into the grid ensuring that the correct frequency and voltage is maintained and decarbonisation can be realised. Power Transition has developed a software platform that demonstrates the ability to provide this through its ultra-secure DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) platform with forecasting and trading capabilities.
The revolution of digitalisation in respect of our National Grid could be seen as having a similar evolution to that of the automobile. Initially both were inefficient and experimental but over the last one hundred years or so the application of science and engineering to all fields of industry has led to revolutionary advances in efficiency and reliability in both fields that cascade into every area of modern life.
The management of both the Grid and automobiles has progressed in tandem since the early 20th century from electro-mechanical control through thermionic valves and the advent of the semiconductor in the 50s followed shortly by the integrated circuit which has led to the fully autonomous system control of today. Power Transition continues this development through their software DLT platform, which integrates with hardware (in collaboration with our hardware partners) to provide behind the meter optimisation and enhance the autonomous control with forecasting, trading, data aggregation, payment gateway and automated financial and non-financial reporting. The platform also integrates EV charging and storage into the grid augmenting the capability of both the grid and the automobile.
The early days of energy production and distribution in the UK up until the 1920s was haphazard at best! It was fully decentralised but with no regulation. There were upwards of twenty different voltages and ten different frequencies depending on the supplier in London alone. This unworkable and inefficient network was brought under regulation in the mid 20s by the first successful iteration of centralised control, the Central Energy Board which managed the output of the private generators.
As the country further industrialised and with a greater need for power, the generation and grid became ever more centralised culminating in the nationalisation of energy supply and generation in 1947. From there onwards big coal was the fuel of choice and the bigger the better. The efficiency of these mega coal fired power stations increased with size and so we ended up with highly centralised gigawatt plants which gave birth to the supergrid and interconnectors supplying their energy via high voltage transmission lines over long distances. Today we rely on the same backbone of this power distribution network which results in 8% of the energy wasted in transport alone, enough to power 170,000 homes in the UK.
As the 21st century dawned a more diverse mix of energy production included oil, nuclear, gas, limited wind and to a large extent coal. Meanwhile the reality of climate change was becoming scientifically irrefutable and in 2019 came the landmark commitment from the National Grid ESO to go zero carbon for all energy supplied by 2025 and net zero carbon for operational emissions by 2050.
Decentralisation of the energy system will require us to maintain peaking capacity plants, installation of more wind farms and PVs, significant increase in storage including V2G (Vehicle to Grid) as well as the development of marine and geothermal resources. Without the means to seamlessly feed this distributed micro power into the grid to maintain its stability, it is at risk of failure. Power Transition with its cloud based, cyber secure and real time data management and control platform provides a powerful and versatile solution which allows generators at any scale to become an important participant in a decentralised internet of energy with the ability to trade their energy actively or autonomously, in real time, either from their own phone or control room console.
The energy industry has changed beyond recognition since the introduction of DC transmission in the 1880s through the birth of AC transmission networks, nuclear power and now the widespread move to renewables, but in no way has access to this life sustaining energy ever been democratic but our right to it in this modern age, for a price, would not be contested. Fuel poverty is an ongoing burden for some whilst others waste energy with no consideration or awareness of the impact or their privilege to its immediate access. Regulation of the energy market, affordability and the reduced scale of act is rapidly providing access to owners of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) transforming who can participate in producing and trading energy, empowering further uptake of clean energy and putting power back into the hands of the consumer.
Power Transition provides the means to further democratise the market through data acquisition, secure, immutable transactions and automated trading 24/7 in real time. Within this scenario and given future regulatory changes a prosumer would be able to donate energy to others in fuel poverty elsewhere on the network.
Our journey towards the 4Ds of grid fitness is ongoing, great progress is being made and Power Transition is lighting the way.
Edmond Rube, Director, Power Transition Ltd