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Going back to my (transmission) roots

Tom Palmer Managing Consultant

Recent years have seen a significant reshaping of the electricity system as smaller, decentralised capacity has connected to the distribution networks and larger, older power stations linked to the transmission network have closed. These trends and their implications for the future have been well captured by National Grid’s annual Future Energy Scenarios (FES), the 2019 update of which issues this week. The company has already flagged the new version will include a view on achieving net zero by 2050, a five-year outlook and more regionalised analysis. One aspect of particular interest that we discuss in this week’s Energy Perspective, is how the 2019 forecast captures the fast-developing new ways opening up to connect to and utilise transmission assets by generators that in the past might well have opted for distribution or “embedded” status. Got to give it up The 2018 FES shows that just over 72% of total installed generation capacity is located on the transmission network. This share has been in long-term decline and is estimated to fall to between 35% and 62% by 2050 under that FES’s four scenarios of the future. Depending on the scenario, the decline is due to closure of large thermal generation, primarily coal with some nuclear and old gas CCGTs. One dynamic behind the shift so far has been that the transmission and distribution network charge structures have encouraged renewables and flexible generation to locate on the distribution network. This has primarily been through the embedded benefits that pay distributed generators for power ...

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