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Four Ways Our Energy System is Changing for the Better

Posted by Heleana Neil - Innovate UK on 29 November 2018 at 9:05 am

Constantly evolving technology will change our lives for the better.

It’s time to take a glimpse into the future. More specifically, we’ll be shining a spotlight on the energy system of tomorrow.

Large, inefficient power stations will make way for smaller, local plants – with consumers at the heart.

How is innovation helping us achieve this? Let’s take a closer look. Here are four ways our energy system is changing for the better.

 

 

1. Local, Decentralised Production

By now, most of us are aware of the importance of renewable energy. This is a hot topic that’s extremely important to consumers.

But, what are the benefits of locally sourced power?

More Efficient

Today, most of our energy is produced by a few large plants. But, these are only 50% efficient, meaning that around half of the UK’s power is wasted.

This is due to the long distances the energy is forced to travel along the power lines.

Decentralised energy solves this problem. In the future, we will have thousands of these smaller power plants, closer to home, dramatically reducing waste.

Green and Clean

Thanks to advancements in technology, the energy reaching your homes will also be renewable.

This, again, is partly due to less waste – meaning less fossil fuels need to be burnt.

However, a large part of this energy will be produced by renewable sources, with eco-conscious innovators changing the way we consume for the better.

 

2. Supply and Demand Will Be Balanced

What if you could power down certain appliances during times of high demand for others? For example, your fridge could receive less energy when your washing machine requires it more.

Thanks to interconnectivity, this is the future.

Digital energy is an emerging market that gives power to consumers. The Internet of Things, and our connected homes, will work together to use energy at the best price – or power down to reduce waste.

So, after green energy comes smart energy!

 

3. Giving Power to the Consumer

As a result of technology and innovation, consumers will be put at the heart of our energy system.

For example, we’ll be able to make our own choices about how we consume. Businesses will be forced to produce energy in ways that gives us the best results in terms of light, warmth and power.

You’ll have a say in what you spend your money on, rather than it being dictated for you.

 

4. Free Energy?

Another way in which consumers could be given complete control is with free energy.

Consumers heard this before in relation to nuclear power.  Wholesale prices may come down, but this doesn't mean the prices to consumers will. 

Thanks to the continual rise of renewables, such as wind and solar power, it’s easier than ever for us to produce green energy.

In fact, we can sometimes produce too much.

During extremely sunny or windy days – supply is likely to be higher than demand!

However, this is something consumers will be able to take advantage of. With increasing innovation in the field of battery storage, you will be able to use it later on when your system isn’t generating.

Interested in finding out more about the future of energy? Follow Innovate UK on Twitter or subscribe to their YouTube channel here.

 

Related articles:

How will the grid cope with the addition of electric vehicles?


What assistance is available for community energy projects?

About the author:

Innovate UK are the British government’s innovation agency. They are focused on supporting British businesses and entrepreneurs who use science and technology to drive economic growth. 

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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Comments

2 comments - read them below or add one

camike

camikeComment left on: 7 December 2018 at 2:51 am

I read your article very detailed and easy to understand, I hope next time you will have more wonderful articles to share with the reader.

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cswd

cswdComment left on: 30 November 2018 at 11:17 am

> Today, most of our energy is produced by a few large plants. But, these are only 50% efficient, meaning that around half of the UK’s power is wasted. This is due to the long distances the energy is forced to travel along the power lines.

Oh dear, this is very muddled logic, I thought YouGen was better than this!

> But, these are only 50% efficient

That's down to the laws of thermodynamics (laws which you can't break).  If you are burning something to produce electricity, the temperature at which it is burnt dictates how efficient the power plant can be, see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_power_station#Thermal_power_generation_efficiency

Wind turbines are around 59% 'efficient' interms of energy conversion, not a vast improvement if you are solely focused on 'efficiency'.

> This is due to the long distances the energy is forced to travel along the power lines.

Technical losses on the UK Power grid run at about 6%, obviously unwanted but seems fairly small, as per this report here:

https://www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/losses/static/pdfs/ukpn-losses-strategy-september-2016.9f9ad15.pdf

which states:

It is generally assumed that across Great Britain, distribution network technical losses are around 6% but with variations of between 4.5% and 9% for urban and rural networks

Regards,

cswd

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