‘Potential opportunity missed’ as Government neglects distributed generation

Distributed generation is crucial in addressing the sustainability, security and affordability of energy in the UK but the Government has failed to ensure its implementation, according to a report.

Carbon Connect, a cross-party think tank, launched the report at the Houses of Parliament this week, which advises on the benefits of distributed generation.

Talking at the launch, Labour life peer and environmental campaigner Baroness Bryony Worthington failed to see how the recently published Energy Bill had accommodated distributed energy.

She said: “In all of the Energy Bills documentation that accompanies it and its many words, it’s hard to see exactly where distributed energy fits in. It could be in the capacity payments, it could be a mechanism potentially that comes from within the CFD that aggregates.

“We don’t know and that’s potentially a shame and an opportunity missed because it is such a central part of helping us solve the energy ‘trilema’.”

The distribution method involves electricity generation that is directly connected to a local distribution network or private network, rather than to the transmission network.

Electricity produced this way is consumed closer to the generation source, reducing the need to transport power over long distances.

Renewables make up a significant proportion of the distributed generation in the UK.

Advocates of the technology claim that it has much to contribute to the three challenges of the energy ‘trilema’ – sustainability, security and affordability.

The report sets out 23 recommendations to the Government, including ensuring the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) establishes a clear vision for distributed generation.

Another recommendation calls on DECC to assess the impact policy instability has on investment, which Carbon Connect claims, affects the costs to taxpayers.

One criticism Worthington had of the report was the number of recommendations it made. She said its extensiveness made it hard for policy makers to reach decisions.

DECC’s energy efficiency deployment office acting director David Purdy said that DECC appreciated the benefits distributed generation had and were open to the debate.

He said: “DECC has never really acknowledged fully before that communities can have a real value…it is a possible strategy approach that DECC will employ more, although it has certain costs in making it happen but we need to play on the benefits that a more localised approach can bring.”

The Belgian transmission and distribution system operator ELIA’s board member Miriam Maes said she agreed with all of the report’s recommendations.

She said: “[The report] is concrete, crisp, complete and constructive in the way it is addressing the distributed energy issues.”

“Distributed Energy can provide us with security of energy supplies within the timeframes that we really need in the UK,” she added.

Conor McGlone

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