Welcome to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC)'s Youth Advisory Panel (YAP)'s blog. The DECC YAP is a group of young people aged between 15 and 25 from all over the UK, with a wide-range of backgrounds, from academia to activism.

Our aim is to inform everyone and anyone about DECC's activities and likewise to help DECC understand and take into account the concerns of young people. We are a medium of consultancy and conversation. Much of our work looks at finding a 'Pathway to 2050', reviewing how energy with be supplied and used in the next four decades, so follow us and join us on the journey!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

National Grid: UK Energy Distribution

Image from 'Pylon of the Month'
by Michael Furey
The National Grid UK is responsible for the transportation of energy (both gas and electricity) from different sources (such as power stations; wind farms; gas fields) to end users (e.g homes, schools, business). Conceptualised during the early 1920s, the electricity grid was built in 1926 to reduce electricity costs, and deliver this incredible resources to the masses.

The day predominantly focused on the national electricity grid, starting with a detailed breakdown of the ‘wiring’ layout which is found across the UK. The presentations then focused on the technical workings of the grid, specifically looking at the efforts undertaken to maintain adequate electricity supplies in the face of a highly variable demand profile. This in itself presents the largest hurdle for many emerging generating technologies (especially renewables) as periods when these sources may be most active are not necessarily at times when the highest demand is experienced. Put in layman’s terms, unlike a traditional power station, you can’t tell a wind farm to suddenly start generating more energy to ensure adequate electricity supply is available for the end of 'The X Factor' when people get up to make a cup of tea. The ability therefore to capture periods of abundant energy production from these sources, and smooth existing demand variability, will practicality determine the future of these energy sources. The 'smart grid' is the proposed solution to this - look out for a blog post about this soon.
Later we visited the main control room, where the ‘ins and outs’ of the grids operation could be observed. One of the most striking things I took from this was the fluidity by which electricity (as a commodity) was traded, with its source dependant solely on each supplier’s price, especially for whether electricity is imported or exported from the continent.

As we left I felt a very strong sense of hope that the problems, so often presented in opposition to renewable energy, could be overcome, and were merely a case of adjusting existing practices and infrastructure. To this end, the grid connections to the Netherlands (nearing completion), with another to Norway (due in 2018) are helping pave the way for a greater interconnectedness and therefore energy security between European states. It is also testament to National Grid's ‘can do’ attitude and visionary approach to the low carbon electricity future we all require.

No comments:

Post a Comment