Britain turns to DR and distributed generation to solve its power woes


By: SGN Staff


Quick Take: Britain was initially slow to move to the smart grid. But the country is under increasing pressure to modernize. For one thing, its growing reliance on wind power forces it to grapple with the challenges of intermittency. For another, its strict carbon mandates are taking "dirty" generators offline, exposing potential shortfalls. - Jesse Berst


Faced with likely power shortages for 2014 to 2016, Britain is turning to demand response and distributed generation. Forecasts claim the country's generating reserve could fall to just 4%, putting half of all customers at risk of disconnection. Additional capacity is needed to cope with contingencies such as the unexpected unavailability of a major power station or a burst of cold weather.


Under Britain's program of retail competition, National Grid has the job of keeping the transmission and distribution grids up and running. As reported by Reuters, the firm is creating two new mechanisms to cope with the pending crisis. On the demand side, the utility will pay customers to cut consumption during peak events (which typically occur between 4PM-8PM on week days during early evenings in winter. Alerts will be issued on the Web and via smart phone.


On the supply side, National Grid proposes to pay operators to keep running generating units that would otherwise be de-commissioned. There is speculation that this order would keep alive coal and gas plants that might otherwise be closed because of high emissions.


Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.

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