Flexitricity Outlines Wish List For 2022 As The UK Builds Momentum Towards Its Net Zero Targets

Published by Alastair Martin 14 / 12 / 21

Flexitricity’s Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Dr Alastair Martin, has outlined his wish list for flexible energy in 2022, focusing on improvements he would like to see made in District Energy, Commercial Buildings, Batteries, Domestic Flexible Energy and Distribution Networks.

Flexible energy is an essential element of the UK’s energy mix, helping the UK reach its 2050 net zero carbon emissions targets.

Flexitricity is working with a host of public sector organisations, industrial and commercial businesses, and utility scale flexible energy projects, to offer National Grid the flexibility it needs to meet the energy demands of the UK as we transition to a low-carbon economy.

Dr Alastair Martin, Chief Strategy Officer at Flexitricity, said: “The government's plan for decarbonisation is going further. Flexible energy is part of the solution to make it work and get us to net zero. Decentralised flexibility has moved forward a long way in recent years but there are definitely things that would continue to improve the picture and that are at the top of my Christmas wish list.”

Flexitricity created and now operates the first, one of the largest and most advanced demand response portfolio in GB and has unsurpassed knowledge of the market and its requirements.

The company looks for flexibility in electricity consumption and generation, creating revenue for energy users and generators as well as reducing national CO2 emissions and helping to secure energy supplies.

Dr Alastair Martin, Flexitricity’s Chief Strategy Officer, recently outlined his wish list heading into 2022 that will bring new momentum to the UK’s net zero targets during a panel discussion of flexible energy leaders organised by The Association of Decentralised Energy (ADE).

“We have made huge steps in the right direction in recent years, but we can’t slow down.  To stand a chance with the 2050 net zero emissions goal, we have to hit tough targets in much shorter timescales,” explains Alastair.

“In the run-up to COP26, the government's plans for decarbonisation became more aggressive and more detailed.  It’s now absolutely clear that flexible energy is essential for net zero,” says Alastair.

“A lot of great progress has been made in decentralised flexibility over the past 2-3 years, with Balancing Mechanism activity really picking up, new response and reserve services coming through, and increased interest from distribution networks. But there’s lots more to do.  Here’s what I would put at the top of my Christmas wish list: 

  • District Energy

“In terms of District Energy, I would like to see a firm, detailed heat policy put in place and I would like it to include large scale heat pumps.  Everything a Combined Heat & Power (CHP) system can do, a large scale heat pump can do, and more.”

  • Commercial Buildings

“An area that has probably underperformed over the years in flexibility would be Commercial Buildings. There is now an emerging ability for these assets to gain access to ad-hoc flexibility markets. Ad-hoc is key, because commercial buildings don’t use the same amount of energy all of the time. At Flexitricity, we’re working with customers and the electricity industry to make this succeed.  I’d like to see the various industry code changes that have been proposed to address the remaining barriers move from debate to implementation, and I’d like National Grid ESO to keep pushing its IT development so that its control room can make regular use of aggregated assets.”

  • Batteries

“Batteries are actually in a pretty good place. If there is one ask, it would be an end to the Mandatory Frequency Response service. We need to make sure all the markets are fully open, and the mandatory service is a closed shop.”

  • Domestic Flexible Energy 

“On the domestic side, half hourly settlement of all customers is key. Not all apparently half-hourly tariffs are actually half-hourly when you look under the bonnet.   Calculating customers’ bills based on when they actually use electricity – instead of relying on regulatory guesstimates, as we do now – would allow Flexitricity and others to give genuine advantages to homeowners who adopt flexible technology like electric vehicles and heat pumps.  Time is short and regulatory change is a slow process; we’re calling on all suppliers to get ahead of that and offer true half-hourly tariffs now.”

  • Distribution Networks

“We have very high expectations of the distribution networks, mainly because of the clearly-demonstrated paths that are open to them for the large-scale adoption of flexibility.  What we really need is for the procurement practices that National Grid ESO has developed over 10-15 years to be echoed in the distribution networks.  Continuous rolling procurement of flexibility is the kind of process that customers can align to and work with. There are some great proposals going forward into the next distribution price review, but UK Power Networks probably has the best – unbundling distribution system operations from distribution network ownership, just as happened successfully in the transmission network,” concludes Alastair.

Flexitricity is working with a host of public sector organisations, industrial and commercial businesses, and utility scale flexible energy projects, to offer National Grid the flexibility it needs to meet the energy demands of the UK.

Alastair Martin

Alastair Martin Founder and Chief Strategy Officer

Dr Alastair Martin founded the first demand side response business in Great Britain in 2004. Alongside heading up Flexitricity, Alastair has worked on a range of energy policy developments and participates in several key regulatory working groups and committees with the Association for Decentralised Energy, National Grid ESO and others.

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