24 January 2018

Over the past two years, Regen has been working closely with Western Power Distribution to produce scenarios for demand on our electricity networks. Based on these scenarios, WPD has carried out studies of the pressures on all four of their networks, ensuring it is prepared to cope with the rapid changes in how we generate and use energy.

WPD has now published the scenarios and network study for the West Midlands licence area which can be found here. The previous three licence areas studies can be found here.

This is perhaps the first time electricity network operators have needed to work closely with the local regions to understand how the demands on this critical infrastructure will change. Crucially the process has been an opportunity to engage with local stakeholders on what they want from their electricity network, with workshops held in each licence area.

It has been particularly interesting while carrying out the analysis to look in detail at factors driving what energy projects connect where on the network, as these five examples hopefully illustrate:

1) How demographic trends in the deployment of different renewable energy technologies have changed over time. The example below illustrates domestic PV in England see-sawing from being a technology for the rich, to being installed in the richest and poorest areas reasonably evenly. There is then a hint of a swing backwards in 2017…follow the below to view this see-sawing shift.

Distribution Of Pv

2) The effect of policy changes and sudden market shocks on the rate at which renewable projects are applied for or installed. 

The graph below demonstrates how planning applications for onshore wind have plummeted since 2015. The data, from the BEIS planning database, shows that in the order of 800 MW of onshore wind was applied for in England, while in 2016 and 2017, only 14 MW was applied for.

Onshore Wind Applications

Source: Regen | Data source: BEIS Renewable Energy Planning Database

3) How some technologies have struggled to meet forecasts or targets, while others have exceeded expectations. The below graph illustrates the growth of solar PV against a 2011 DECC review of deployment potential. DECC were not alone in missing the scale of solar PV’s imminent deployment explosion, including prominent energy forecasters such as the IEA and Bloomberg.


Solar Pv Exceeding Expectations

Source: Regen | Data source: DECC review of deployment potential (2011) and DUKES

4) How renewable energy projects often build in clusters and along resource and network corridors. These clusters and corridors are typically dictated by the level of local authority and public support/ ambivalence, and proximity to the distribution network. The graphic below demonstrates the planning history and clustering of ground-mounted solar PV projects in the West Midlands licence area.

Solar Projects

Source: Regen’s West Midlands WPD scenarios report.

5) How to forecast the growth rate of electric vehicles and storage. A method to begin assessing the deployment potential of a technology is to review its revenue streams and the scale of the markets it could be installed in. The graphic below illustrates the different revenue streams for storage and other factors that can be used to build a view of its deployment potential.

Pathway To Parity

Source: Regen’s Pathways to Parity paper series: ‘Energy Storage: towards a commercial model’.

We have now started the process over again with the South West, so it will be fascinating to be able to see how much has changed in those two years since we commenced the process.

Author: Joel Venn

Contact: jvenn@regensw.co.uk


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