National Grid has published its annual Electricity and Gas Ten Year Statements, alongside the System Operability Framework and Gas Future Operability Planning document. Together these publications provide insight and analysis for the industry and stakeholders about the changing demands on our networks. We explain the role of National Grid’s suite of SO publications and discuss the main messages.
Great Britain’s energy landscape is evolving at an unprecedented pace and so having a clear picture of the challenges that lie ahead over the next decade and beyond has never been more important.
Industry and broader stakeholders need credible and reliable insights to be able to make informed decisions about future investments, which is why every year National Grid produces a suite of documents under the heading Future of Energy. They explore the issues that matter, ranging from the emergence of new technologies through to security of supply. These publications set out our long-term view of gas and electricity transmission capability and operability. You can read more about what each document does here.
Central to our analysis are our Future Energy Scenarios, published each July. They set out credible pathways for how Great Britain’s energy future might look. In addition to the four documents that were published on 30 November, we also produce Summer and Winter Outlook Reports, the latest of which for winter 2016/17 was published in October. In January 2017, we will also publish our latest Network Options Assessment (NOA) which shows investment recommendations we believe are needed across the GB National Electricity Transmission System, based on detailed analysis of the Electricity Ten Year Statement.
Why we undertake this role
National Grid occupies a unique position at the centre of the energy sector and this means we are perfectly placed to lead this important industry-wide debate, tapping into our own expertise as well as the results of the extensive consultations we undertake with stakeholders every year.
And of course, there is a wider context to the analysis we provide because ultimately it feeds into Great Britain’s need to find the right solutions to the energy trilemma of security of supply, affordability and environmental sustainability.
The four publications and what they tell us
So, what is the purpose of each document and what can we learn from them? The Electricity Ten Year Statement (ETYS) is all about understanding what the requirements will be for the National Electricity Transmission System to transfer bulk power over the next decade – where capacity shortfalls might occur – so that as System Operator we can plan ahead to manage the network effectively and securely.
The ETYS includes contributions from the GB transmission owners. It takes the work that we do each year in our Future Energy Scenarios, then applies this to models of the National Electricity Transmission System so that we can flex and test its capability to meet changing power demands.
This year’s ETYS highlights potential network capacity deficits in several electricity transmission regions due to the changing nature of the energy landscape. ETYS also highlights the fact that keeping demand supplied through the National Electricity Transmission System will be vital, particularly as generation shifts away from closing fossil-fuelled plants towards increased reliance on intermittent generation.
The outlook for gas
We produce the Gas Ten Year Statement (GTYS) at the end of our annual planning cycle to provide customers with the latest information on connection and capacity opportunities. The document explains what is driving network development, the current capability of the National Transmission System (NTS) and the tools we’re developing to improve its operation, as well as ongoing asset developments.
A number of themes emerge this year, including the impact of changing customer requirements. We are committed to reducing the cost and time it takes for new customers to connect to the NTS and in February 2016 we launched an innovation project called Project CLoCC (Customer Low Cost Connections), which aims to cut the connection cost to below £1 million and the time taken to connect to less than a year.
Another theme is the continued rise in renewable electricity sources, which have now reached 30% of installed capacity, and the impact this will have on gas demand. We anticipate higher levels of gas-fired generation over the next 10 years, with gas being used both for flexible electricity generation and to support intermittent renewable sources of electricity. Changes in gas demand will increase challenges around how we operate the network.
Operability issues for electricity and gas
Alongside ETYS and GTYS we have also published two documents that examine future operability challenges. The first of these is the System Operability Framework (SOF), which we produce each year to identify medium- and long-term operability requirements for the National Electricity Transmission System. In recent years SOF has grown to become an established source of market information.
Through this document we look at our Future Energy Scenarios in detail to understand what they might mean for the way we operate our networks in future.
This year’s SOF highlights the increasing flexibility that will be needed in future due to variations in intermittent generation and outputs from interconnectors. It also sets out the requirement for new balancing tools and technologies to complement more flexible operation of large thermal plant.
The publication also details why a holistic approach to enhancing capabilities across networks and providers must be supported by new codes and services. It goes on to describe how future operability will depend on a ‘whole system’ approach that makes use of resources across the whole electricity system.
Finally, this year we have added a new publication – the Gas Future Operability Planning (GFOP) document. Its goal is to outline how our customers changing requirements may impact the future capability of the NTS out to 2050 and what challenges these may pose to NTS operation and our processes. The GFOP may trigger a change in the way we respond to customer and market signals leading to modifications in our decision making and operational processes. It will provide a focal point for all market participants to discuss future gas transmission network needs, operational challenges and uncertainties out to 2050.
Our first edition is a high level document which has been designed to test the effectiveness of the GFOP concept with our customers and stakeholders. Our aim is for future editions to be more collaborative so all interested parties can explain how their use of the NTS might change, challenge National Grid’s assumptions, provide evidence for other areas we should look at and identify opportunities for working together.
The importance of stakeholder input
Stakeholder involvement continues to play a very important role in the success of all the documents. For example, 362 organisations were involved in the consultation process for this year’s Future Energy Scenarios, while the stakeholder engagement process for the 2016 SOF is more extensive than ever before, with 369 attendees participating in six webinars.
If you have any feedback or queries, get in touch with the relevant team on the individual report pages.