Each month we will be looking at a key topic which is crucial in the race to net zero, and how we at Northern Powergrid are working to drive positive change for our network and communities. This month, we’re exploring the importance of our role in the local economy and how we are planning for the future of sustainable, localised energy.
The cornerstone of the local economy
Our electricity network supplies essential power for eight million residents and workers across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.
Across Northern Powergrid we work every day to match the services that we provide with the demands of our customers to ensure we can power their everyday lives safely, efficiently and responsibly.
We know that our services provide the bedrock that supports the essential local economy, and we view our role within the electricity system as being more important than ever before as our network becomes more dynamic with growing presence in transport, heat and smart technology.
As we live through everchanging and evolving times, we need to look far into the future to ensure our growing network is ready for the rapid changes that electricity use is going to experience over the coming years.
We are immensely proud to provide widespread employment and essential services to our communities that make a significant contribution to the level of economic activity in the North of England, and we want to be a force for good in our region and beyond as a result.
The future of energy networks
It‘s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape for our customers, our business and our region. It is also clear that we don’t know what the long term impact will be. This means it’s important that addressing COVID19 implications is part of all conversations we have about our long-term plans for our next regulatory period (RIIO ED2) and the contribution our network can make to the region’s future well-being and successful green recovery. We know that our plan for ED2 needs a lot of flexibility built into to deal with the uncertainty we see around the next 5-10 years. Our investments in the region can act as a catalyst for future sustainable innovations and we have a duty to serve our customers in a way that will drive positive change in the energy sector and beyond.
All energy networks are going to need to think ahead to adapt to a more dynamic energy system which will heavily rely on local distribution of electricity.
In its recent Energy White Paper, the UK Government provided us with a levelling up agenda for the green economy. This will involve all Distribution Network Operations (DNOs) and underpins the need for us all to become more proactive network operators as we balance supply and demand in real time in a decentralised, localised and democratised energy landscape (central to our shift to becoming a DSO). We know that in order to decarbonise our everyday lives, transport, domestic heating, energy efficiency and energy markets are all going to have to change dramatically so we can mitigate the worst effects of climate change.
Our customer engagement has shown that the electrification of transport and heat is something that the majority are considering within the next 10 years. More charging points, heat pumps and batteries are all going to be part of this shift. This will mean more connections to our network and customers being even more dependent on electricity in their everyday lives both inside their homes and out on the region’s roads.
Networks will also need to respond to a more dynamic local network; vehicle-to-grid charging, home battery storage and distributed renewable generation will mean that our low voltage network will need more active management than ever before.
The future brings challenges and opportunities and that’s why the time is now for forward-planning. We‘re part of our communities and we’re personally invested in ensuring our network plays its part in the net zero transition and support a green industrial revolution.
We’re currently planning our business plan for 2023 and beyond and will soon be sharing our ideas about the future, so stay tuned to our monthly blog series to find out more.
By Patrick Erwin, Policy and Markets Director