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Daire Kelly's picture
Consultant The Orthello Partnership

Consulting, Solution Architecture and R&D professional with The Orthello Partnership. UK based.

  • Member since 2022
  • 4 items added with 822 views
  • Apr 1, 2022
  • 549 views

In this article I explore Great Britain's generation mix and carbon emissions profile from March 2015 to February 2022 and attempt to answer the question: "Have we made progress in decarbonising Great Britains electricity generation?".

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 1, 2022

What do you see as the key areas GB should be focusing on moving forward to reach these goals? 

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Daire Kelly on Apr 1, 2022

Good question. I think the government needs to increase pressure on transmission and distribution to increase system resilience and reliability. I was looking last night at the distribution of availability of system inertia over the pst few years and it's not trending in the right direction as we shed more and more thermal generation from the generation mix. You can see an increase in periodicly high (though not unmanageable) rates of change of frequency in the system frequency data although I only took a light look at that. Integrating intermittant sources is a huge engineering challenge and the system must be able to cope. We had a major outage in 2019 that seemed to be the result of a lightning strike on a grid that was already running quite close to the edge of it's performance envelope.

The government should also increase it's focus and pressure on the rest of us to be creative and risk inclined in reducing the overall cost of electricity to consumers and business as we introduce new technologies and operational methodologies. We need to keep in mind that electricity in particular and energy in general is a force multiplier for the rest of the economy and society and in the process of decarbonising, we should not compromise on the economic and social value that affordable and reliable energy brings to our communities.

We also need to ensure that the regulatory environment is tuned to enable rapid deployment and scaling of low carbon generation technologies. Small Modular Reactors for example, may suit a regulatory approach that is quite different from the present one which is tailored to mitigate the risk of very large "One off" projects. 

Finally I would say that it's always worth tying energy policy making into national security policy and international industrial coordination with our allies. Our sources of hydrocarbons drove a lot of security decision making in the 20th and early 21st century. Our sources of neodymium, lithium (among others) and industrial plant will likely be as important in the coming decades. However the global geostrategic landscape evolves, the power must flow. Our will to decarbonise should be aligned with our will to survive and thrive and not be in conflict.

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