The United Kingdom’s target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 will require sweeping changes to the engineering and operational approaches of electrical transmission and distribution companies. The Future Energy Scenarios 2020 report from National Grid, a U.K. electricity system operator, outlines the journey towards zero carbon emissions by focusing on investments required within each of the verticals: renewables, network upgrades, substations, energy storage, and electric vehicles. Net zero depends on moving away from traditional one-way power systems to distributed systems.
Electricity demand is expected to almost double to 96 gigawatts (GW) by 2050. To deliver sufficient supply to meet the increasing demand, the electric grid will include an increased number of distributed energy resources, such as solar photovoltaics, batteries, wind farms, tidal sources and microgrids. This will significantly change the demography of the electric grid and the way it operates, increasing in complexity, and driving transmission and distribution operators to adopt an operating model that facilitates multidirectional power flows.
As the electric grid becomes more distributed, demanding, localised and dynamic, grid operators will need to transform their systems using digital solutions. They will rely upon the availability of dynamic data, demand patterns and greater intervention at a distribution level to run a reliable, efficient and safe grid.