Tag Archives: UK Power Networks

London’s electricity infrastructure under spotlight

October 2013: The issue of London’s electricity infrastructure is being raised in several quarters now, most recently by the Mayor in a letter to Secretary of State for Energy , Ed Davey, and through the Mayor’s High Level Electricity Working Group. More recently the GLA London Infrastructure Group has looked at future constraints on London’s electricity network, which has led to the recent commissioning of a piece of research work looking at barriers to connection to the electricity distribution network in the capital.

The latest meeting of the Infrastructure Group turns again to this issues, with a short briefing paper (Agenda Item 4 Appendix A) presented for discussion which highlights the following:

the UK’s poor ranking on electricity connections (only 62nd out of 185 economies) in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ survey (London example was used for UK assessment), the Prime Minister’s Office and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) are now investigating the issue and officers as well as Matthew Pencharz are in touch with relevant officials.

In relation to the recently commissioned research the paper states this “is expected to conclude in January/February 2014, and on its basis further discussions with the Government and other key players about improving infrastructure funding arrangements will be initiated.”

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Mayor’s concerns over London’s future electricity supply – correspondence with Ed Davey

September 2013:  The Mayor’s concerns over “uncertainties of our energy supply and growing chances of supply disruption in the coming years” have been highlighted in correspondence between Boris Johnson and Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey,  released this week.

The Mayor writes that his “priority is delivering the jobs and growth that will ensure London remains the best big city in the world in which we live, work and invest, and having a secure energy supply will be absolutely crucial to achieving this… I am adamant that we must do everything in our power now to ensure that the lights will stay on in the future.”

The Mayor calls for major changes to the regulatory control framework rules for distribution network operators (DNOs). As these are predominantly monopoly businesses, the operating framework is set by energy regulator Ofgem. DNOs are the companies operating the local electricity grid (as opposed to the higher voltage ‘national transmission grid’) and in London the majority of the distribution network is managed by UK Power Networks and parts of west London by Scottish & Southern Energy. The Mayor letter calls for a “urgent review of the currently regulatory regime to ensure that DNOs are able to invest in energy infrastructure and install capacity ahead of need”.

The Mayor highlights problems with current legislation and – interestinglypoints to “the way Ofgem interprets and exercises its regulatory functions [which] are not fit for purpose” and finally calls upon the Secretary of State for ideas on how to give “DNOs in London substantially more scope and flexibility to reduce the level of network stress and improve strategic investment in London’s electricity infrastructure.”

In response to the tightening of electricity supply capacity over the next few years Ed Davey refers to possible extensions to existing balancing services operated by National Grid and in the “medium term …steps to ensure sufficient investment in capacity via the Capacity Market, with the first auction taking place in 2014 for 2018/19 delivery.”

On the issue often brought up by businesses – the speed of installing electricity connections to new users – the Minster’s letter touches upon current Ofgem work to set the new electricity distribution price control (called RIIO ED1) and sets out that “the existing framework provides the flexibility to drive efficiency outcomes in the vast majority of cases.”

The Mayor’s correspondence with Ed Davey is set out in Appendix 6a of the following GLA document.

The Mayor has established a ‘High Level Electricity Working Group’ to look at many of the issues raised above and minutes and papers from the three meetings that have taken place to date of this group can be found here. A further recent paper looking at London’s electricity infrastructure  by the London Infrastructure Group can be viewed here.

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London’s Electricity Infrastructure

July 2013: A recent meeting of the London Infrastructure Group, part of the London Enterprise Panel (the local enterprise partnership for London) included a paper considering requirements for London’s growing electricity infrastructure.

The paper highlights that “UK Power Networks (UKPN) is London’s main Distribution Network Operator (DNO) for electricity serving all except the London boroughs of Hillingdon, Hounslow and Ealing. Scottish and Southern Energy serve these boroughs. As DNO UKPN’s responsibility extends from the Grid Supply Points where it takes electricity at high voltages from National Grid to the supply of London’s homes and businesses.”

UKPN is currently consulting on its 2015 – 2023 Business Plan which is to be submitted to Ofgem.  Much of the detail around UKPN’s proposals in the Plan have been discussed in recent meetings of the Mayor’s High Level Electricity Working Group and an appendix paper to the London Infrastructure Group meeting considers some key elements of the Plan.

The papers report that the Mayor has raised concerns regarding future investment in London’s electricity distribution infrastructure and that UKPN latest proposals “represent a step backwards regarding the prospects of UKPN investing in advance of need. It gives rise to concern about whether UKPN has taken sufficiently full account of the needs of the City of London and other central London boroughs facing business and development growth. The reason for the backward step is mainly attributable to the intervention of Ofgem” (some of these concerns on future needs were recently raised by businesses in the recent West End Commission report).

Investment in major substations has been reduced from £170 million to £100 million compared to the original draft. UKPN now includes only four of the planned six (plus Earls Court1) major substations for central London on a funded basis (see Table 1 below for details). The origin of the change is principally Ofgem’s unwillingness to accept the remaining three substations as part of UKPN’s regulated asset base, since they would amount to investment by UKPN in advance of an actual connection being requested.

Interesting to note that other changes have been made to UKPN’s forecasts of sustainable energy investment in response to comments to the original consultation. These include changes to the assumptions regarding the uptake of electric vehicles and to the infrastructure investment for Feed–in–Tariff eligible generation.

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Bringing DSR and Planning Together?

1 July 2013: Discussions from the latest (third) meeting of the Mayor’s High Level Electricity Working Group – which took place on 18 June –  have recently been published. The papers can be downloaded here [see details of previous meetings here]. Points of interest include:

  • GLA “officers are currently in the process of setting up a mechanism to provide UKPN regularly with up to date data from the GLA’s London Development Database in particular about planning permission.” Provision of this data will allow UKPN a better understanding of where future developments are likely to come forward, and foresight on where future energy demand – and potential future new decentralised energy generation capacity connected to the distribution network – is likely to be introduced.
  • The minutes also inform that “The GLA and UKPN have also established a sub-group with respective experts to discuss identified Decentralised Energy and demand side response [DSR] issues and develop a joint strategy initially covering UKPN’s demand site [minor typo here in minutes – this should read ‘demand side’] response initiatives and connection cost barrier for Decentralised Energy. The subgroup met on 3 May for the first time and will meet again twice this year.”
  • The minutes also capture the following interesting point: “It was also mentioned that demand side response measures work best in new developments. GLA officers confirmed that development could be encouraged to be ‘demand-side-response ready’ through the London Plan. This will be considered as part of the Further Alterations to the London Plan.” The discussions do not go on to explain how this could be done, but energy management systems on site could potentially reduce the load of a building during times of peak grid system demand (ie reduce lighting or electrical heating/cooling uses, restrict lift use) or potentially looking to onsite decentralised energy systems exporting more of their output (or conversely when there is a lot of wind or perhaps PV output on the grid, onsite DE systems such as CHP could switch off).

UK Power Networks (UKPN) – under their Low Carbon London Programme – are already undertaking trials of such demand response activities – see the following press release.

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London Electricity Future Discussions

18 June 2013: In November of last year the Mayor held an Electricity Summit at City Hall where a High Level Electricity Working Group was formed to “discuss the energy systems needed by London over the coming decades and the mechanisms by which the challenges can be met”.  A background paper Delivering an Accessible and Competitive Electricity Network for London was presented as well as a presentation setting out the remit of the Working Group.

The  papers from the first two High Level Group Meetings have now become available and can be downloaded here (15 January) and here (28 March).

The papers for the 15 January meeting set some comprehensive information of key issues and detail the future priorities of the Group including:

  • Identifying growth hotspots and areas of existing network stress that require strategic infrastructure investment
  • the Potential of Decentralised Energy systems, district heating and demand side response measures to reduce electricity distribution infrastructure costs
  • and Estimating costs of investments required and considering models for how they could be met/shared

The March 28 meeting set out a series of action points including that:

“The GLA and UKPN are establishing a sub- group with respective experts to discuss identified Decentralised Energy and demand side response issue identified at the January meeting. It meets for the first time on 3 May. As and when appropriate, the sub-group will report back to the High-level Working Group.”

The third of the Working Group meetings took place today: Sir Edward Lister is standing down from chairing, and the Mayor’s Environment and Political Advisor Matthew Pencharz will attend the Group meetings from today and chair from henceforth.

See here for the Mayor’s response on how renewable generators issues will be represented on the Group.

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Decarbonising London’s electricity network

March 2013: An update on  progress of the Low Carbon London programme as it moves into the trial phase – the key areas for which are:

  • Smart metering (SM) – monitoring residential and commercial electricity use and trialling variable tariff pricing to shift consumption behaviour.
  • Small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) – quantify generation output, understand demand and manage techniques for accommodating these connections.
  • Electric vehicles (EV) – understand and influence EV charging patterns and manage the impact on the electricity network.
  • Distributed energy (DE)/Distributed generation (DG) – active network monitoring (ANM) – quantify generation output, understand how to facilitate and manage DG and how active control can be used by DNOs.
  • Demand response (DR) – understand the potential to postpone/defer electricity network reinforcement during peak demand.

Further information on Low Carbon London here.

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CIL supporting sustainable energy in Camden

November 2012: Camden have issued further information on a new Camden Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and are asking for views on a preliminary draft charging schedule. The consultation sets out that “The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a new charge that local authorities will be able to collect on new developments in their area. It is based on a formula relating to the type and size of development and is collected when planning permissions for new developments are implemented. The funds gathered will be spent on infrastructure within Camden such as schools, community facilities, highways improvements and many other forms of provision which are currently funded by monies paid by developers under Section 106 obligations.”

As part of the evidence base required for setting the CIL, Camden have commissioned an infrastructure study examining key utilities required in the borough over the coming decades. This study includes energy infrastructure, with page 47 onwards setting out a useful summary of some key sustainable energy issues for Camden:

“LB Camden recognises that it needs to play its part in supporting London’s drive towards a lower carbon energy supply. Consultation with the Council has indicated that three areas within the borough could form the focal points for public investment – Euston/KingsCross;  Bloomsbury/Tottenham Court Road; and Gospel Oak – with a figure of £1 million for each area (£3m in total) being considered appropriate to help lever in further private investment. To date £3.8 million has been secured from the Francis Crick Institute (national medical research centre next to St Pancras station), although the further £1 million identified through consultation with the council will still be needed to address linking up other major development sites in the Euston/Kings Cross area.”

Appendix A of the report provides some further information. The consultation runs from 8 Nov 2012 to 20 Dec 2012. Further information on decentralised energy opportunities are set out in Camden’s Heat Map (scroll to the bottom of page).

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Delivering Power: The Future of Electricity Regulation in London’s Central Business District

23 March 2012:  This report, commissioned by London First in conjunction with the City of London and City Property Association looks at the “long-standing concerns from developers about the challenge of securing a reliable and timely connection to the electricity network for new projects, particularly in the City and the West End where there is often little spare capacity.” Further detail here; report downloadable here.

Measure of the density of central London’s electricity demand.

The summary highlights problems associated with connecting new consumers to the distribution network, specifically:

  • General communication and performance by the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) in dealing with developers could be improved. We recognise that in confidential interviews of this type there is a danger of focussing on the negatives, but found the level of dissatisfaction notable.
  • There is a sense that developers cannot get the level of service they want,or indeed feel is necessary from the DNO. It is notable that developers stated that they would in general be willing to pay more for such a service,but this was not on offer from the DNO.
  • In practical terms, developers expressed a preference for a quick guaranteed connection and suggested that a greater degree of anticipatory investment by the DNO would help to facilitate this.
  • In relation to the third point, above, there is a lack of understanding as to why the DNO has not invested to a greater extent in London’s Central Business District (CBD) in light of the view that there will be a significant localized increase in electricity demand over the next ten years.

Mayorwatch has posted a news story which includes a comment from London’s DNO- UK Power Networks– in response to the study.

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Low Carbon London and EDF Energy share initial smart meter findings

March 2012: Recent news release from the Low Carbon London project stating that: “The first 500 smart meters have been installed by EDF Energy in homes across London as part of a pioneering pilot to cut carbon across the capital. …EDF Energy, as a member of the Low Carbon London programme, plans to fit 5,000 smart meters across London and in the Mayor’s low carbon zones, Green Enterprise District and RE:NEW areas by the end of August.” The full news release can be read here. Further information on smart metering initiatives in London can be read here. The trials are taking place in a number of areas around London including  Lewisham,  ArchwayCanning Town,  Barking and  Peckham.

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‘Low Carbon London’ Update

January 2012: London distribution network operator UK Power Connections was awarded funding under Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network Fund to undertake a smart metering project with a range of stakeholders entitled ‘Low Carbon London’ (more of which here). The Executive Summary of their latest Six Monthly Report has just been posted on Ofgem’s website here. The update mentions that:

  • A comprehensive campaign to identify 500 trial smart meter customers in London Low Carbon Zones has been undertaken and 263 meters have been so far installed (more of which here).
  • Partner organisation Imperial College has opened the ‘Low Carbon London Learning Lab’ (more of which here and here).
  • A series of ‘innovative DNO-level Demand Response Contracts have been signed’ – see earlier post for details on this.

The Low Carbon London project will run from January 2011 until June 2014.  UK Power Networks will work with Transport for London and electric vehicle owner groups to explore how best to meet demand from the country’s anticipated growth in the use of electric vehicles, and the impact of locally generated green power on the electricity network will be tested to ensure fast and cost-effective grid connections can be provided in the future. Imperial’s Low Carbon London Learning Laboratory will analyse the data from all the trial installations

The update helpfully states that – “The highly inter-dependent nature of the detailed design work requires a high level of intricate configuration management to ensure all internal and external inter-dependencies are accurately maintained as the overall and individual component designs progress and mature” – which I’m sure enlightens us all…

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London smart meter trial launched

18 November 2011: As part of the ‘Low Carbon London’ project, 5,000 smart meters are to be installed in homes and businesses across London.  EDF Energy customers in the pilot zones, Lewisham, Perry Vale, Canning Town, Archway, Barking, Muswell Hill and Peckham, are being offered the first 500 smart meters, extending to EDF Energy customers in the ten low carbon zones and the Green Enterprise District later next year. Read full details on the following press release from London’s electricity distribution network operator, UK Power Networks.

Further information on the ‘Low Carbon London’ project – which is funded through Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network Fund – can be seen here and here.

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Connecting Decentralised Energy to London’s Electricity Network

September 2011: Back in May Ofgem issued an ‘open letter’ requesting views from the distributed generation (also commonly called decentralised generation) industry of their experience of connecting projects to the local electricity network. Ofgem’s letter sets out that they:

“consider  that the efficient development  of distributed generation  could play an important role in addressing a number of key policy issues.   These include helping the UK to achieve its targets for reduced carbon emissions as well as improving the  security of energy  supply and  addressing  fuel poverty issues. To this end,  we have endeavoured to ensure that  those seeking to connect  distributed  generation to the network  do not encounter any unnecessary barriers resulting from the way that the electricity distribution networks are operated and regulated.”

The increased use of decentralised energy is a key element of London’s energy strategy, and the Mayor has established a target for 25% of London’s heat and power to be sourced by localised DE schemes by 2025.

Ofgem have now published a useful ‘High Level Summary’ of responses which highlights the difficulities that DE operators experience when bringing forward a project. This includes the:

  • Limited and inconsistent distribution network data available to generators
  • Costly processes ranging from connection assessments to legal fees
  • Prohibitively complex grid code requirements placed on these smaller distributed generation systems.

No regional aspects are highlighted in the findings – that is – is it any harder/easier to connect DE to London’s electricity distribution system (operated by UK Power Networks in the main and also SSE in SW London) than anywhere else, however, if London is to significantly increase its use of DE, the numerous barriers identified by smaller generators that currently exist need to be removed.

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