DEBATE: Does the government’s electricity infrastructure shake-up go far enough?
YES – John Pettigrew, chief executive of National Grid.
The energy landscape is rapidly becoming more complex, and this change is only going to accelerate. That means we need a flexible and smart system to manage where and when our energy comes from. It’s important that all the technologies that can help do this have equal access to the market and the opportunity to compete on a level playing field, regardless of whether it’s a tried and tested product, or a new service. We’ve already got the wheels in motion at National Grid to help create simple and equal market conditions, and it’s encouraging that the report supports this ambition. We’re pleased the report acknowledges that some regulatory models need to adapt given the rapid amount of change we’re seeing in the energy industry. While further work could be done on opening the storage market to as many entrants as possible, on the whole the report will help the country move towards a secure, low carbon, flexible energy system, that uses efficiency and innovation to help keep costs down for bill payers.
NO – Caterina Brandmayr, energy policy adviser at Green Alliance
While the smart power strategy is a great technical plan, it is not speaking to those it needs to convince. It ticks important boxes, such as removing barriers to battery storage deployment and opening the flexibility energy market for small energy tech like electric vehicles and rooftop solar. If it goes to plan, it could lead to radical change, delivering an affordable, low carbon system that really benefits consumers. But it risks falling short because it doesn’t address the politics of transformation. With its maze of acronyms, government departments, code review bodies and industry groups, and little clarity about who would be in charge of what, it excludes all but the most experienced insiders. It is ordinary people who will own the batteries, electric vehicles and solar panels that help to make a smart power system work. This strategy should be explaining clearly to them – the public – why a smart energy system is good for them.