Britain’s first regional energy market is to be piloted in the East Fife area of Scotland after electricity supplier SP Energy Networks was awarded a £20-million grant.
The five-year Fusion project is being run along with the prestigious St Andrews University and Fife Council as the increasing number of electric cars and other technologies push up demand for power.
UK energy regulator Ofgem has also announced £7.3 million in funding for a LV Engine scheme, a new type of network power transformer which can closely control network voltage and power flow while providing a direct current (DC) power supply, which is ideal for charging electric cars.
LV Engines are due to be delivered by SP Energy in collaboration with fellow provider UK Power Networks.
SP Energy Networks says it is developing new technologies to optimise existing infrastructure to ensure a smart electricity grid which will be capable of coping with rising demand.
Ofgem has reportedly invested £20.6 million in the project which is set to allow customers to better connect renewable energy sources, including wind and solar power, to the grid.
Colin Taylor, SP Energy Networks’s tech chief, said: “The increasing take-up of electric vehicles, for example, will cause a considerable load strain on local networks. It is estimated that there will be 9.7 million electric vehicles on British roads and 9.1 million heat pumps in British homes by 2040. We are planning and implementing an appropriate and flexible response to that increasing demand now.”
Fusion, which is due to receive £5.3 million for a five-year trial project, is set to create the UK’s first intelligent energy marketplace where energy flexibility can be bought and sold by users in an open and competitive market. It is anticipated that the project could enable potential customer savings of £200 million by 2050 and cut carbon emissions by over 3 million tonnes.
Jim McOmish of SP’s distribution networks division said: “Business and residential customers are seeking to maximise the efficiency and lower the cost of their energy use, and the flexibility of their demand for energy is a marketable commodity.
“At the moment there is no open accessible transparent market to buy and sell this flexibility, and the challenge is building one which unlocks that value for everybody: electricity providers on one side and consumers on the other.”
SP chief executive Frank Mitchell added: “These globally innovative projects will enable customers to be fully engaged in the electricity market, creating additional income through local generation and storage, whilst unlocking additional network capacity to make a truly nationwide network of electric vehicles a reality.”
The East Fife coast near St Andrews is well blessed with summer sun and winter wind. Picture credit: Flickr