Scenarios for the Development of Smart Grids in the UK

25 Feb 2014

‘Smart grid’ is a catch-all term for the smart options that could transform the ways society produces, delivers and consumes energy, and potentially the way we conceive of these services. Delivering energy more intelligently will be fundamental to decarbonising the UK electricity system at least possible cost, while maintaining security and reliability of supply.

Smarter energy delivery is expected to allow the integration of more low carbon technologies and to be much more cost effective than traditional methods, as well as contributing to economic growth by opening up new business and innovation opportunities. Innovating new options for energy system management could lead to cost savings of up to £10bn, even if low carbon technologies do not emerge. This saving will be much higher if UK renewable energy targets are achieved.

Building on extensive expert feedback and input, this report describes four smart grid scenarios which consider how the UK’s electricity system might develop to 2050. The scenarios outline how political decisions, as well as those made in regulation, finance, technology, consumer and social behaviour, market design or response, might affect the decisions of other actors and limit or allow the availability of future options. The project aims to explore the degree of uncertainty around the current direction of the electricity system and the complex interactions of a whole host of factors that may lead to any one of a wide range of outcomes. Our addition to this discussion will help decision makers to understand the implications of possible actions and better plan for the future, whilst recognising that it may take any one of a number of forms.