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Ian Smyth, Director, UK Power Networks Services
Industry View from
Higher energy costs and congestion on the networks delivering energy to customers are an ever-increasing challenge for UK industry. Embracing new energy networks, technologies and solutions such as EV infrastructure, battery storage systems and microgrids can support UK companies to reduce energy costs, increase resilience and achieve net zero targets.
Power outages represent some of the most serious financial, productivity and customer experience challenges that can affect a business. For example, a two-millisecond interruption can affect an airport’s operations for days because power outage not only means resetting the airport’s systems but also requires all the passenger luggage on the conveyers to be rescanned and put through the system again. This can mean passengers flying to locations across the globe without their bags and it can take the airport up to four days to unite the last customer with the last bag. The consequences are severe reputational and customer satisfaction issues for the airport, the airline and its handling partners. This is only one example of how transport companies can be affected by power outages. The details are different, but the effects are the same across the UK’s commercial and industrial sector.
The fourth industrial revolution brings physical, cyber and biological systems together, challenging our traditional attitude to asset ownership. If we can buy services when and where we need them, instead of buying assets we only use occasionally, we can reduce costs. Taking a taxi is cheaper than owning a car. If we can improve the flexibility and availability of taxis, we don’t need a car sitting on the driveway, remaining unproductive for long periods.
Energy is the same. If we can buy energy infrastructure as a service, we can support the industry to move to an economic environment where energy bills are close to zero marginal cost. To achieve this, we need electricity systems that are dynamic, local and decentralised, and that produce energy that represents a fraction of the total cost of our activities.
At UK Power Networks Services, we seek to understand the strategic imperatives, growth plans and financial drivers of our clients. We are then able to reframe the way we look at electricity infrastructure, take advantage of smart energy systems and employ technologies such as battery storage, photovoltaics and electric vehicles to enable our clients to effectively address the three challenges they face – to improve productivity, reduce the cost of electricity and cut emissions.
Thinking about electricity in a holistic and strategic manner allows us to find ways to optimise the flexibility of the energy system and deliver the twin benefits of reduced costs and potential new revenue streams. For example, by generating and storing that electricity, businesses can shift peak demand and avoid high electricity costs, and also reduce overall consumption from the grid. That flexibility becomes more than just the characteristic of the system, it becomes a tradable product that can be sold to others.
At UK Power Networks Services, we are experts in distributed energy solutions and power distribution, integrating decentralised energy resources and new emerging technologies. We provide holistic energy solutions that include energy technology consulting, asset financing, project delivery, design and build, operations and maintenance and asset management. As we are a client-led business, with a technology-agnostic approach to our solutions, we are able to provide the most suitable solution to businesses’ energy requirements that aligns to their energy strategy and operational aims, coupled with the financing required to successfully deliver the projects. Our clients trust us to provide safe, reliable and innovative bespoke energy infrastructure strategy and solutions.
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