Plans to integrate low carbon solutions welcomed

Industry representatives have welcomed the government’s Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan and accompanying Digitalisation Strategy.

Energy digitalisation strategy

The Energy Digitalisation Strategy, developed by the government, Ofgem and Innovate UK in coordination with the energy sector, sets out a vision and suite of policies to digitalise the energy system. Digitalisation will enable millions of low carbon assets, including solar PV, electric vehicles and heat pumps, to be optimised across our energy system.

The April announcement of a 78% emission reduction target for 2035 is the basis for the updated Smart System Plan, as well as other goals including 40GW of offshore wind, the ban on sales of ICE vehicles in favour of electric vehicles by 2030 and the deployment of 600,000 heat pumps by 2028.

Together the plans aim to reduce the amount of generation and network needed to be built to meet peak demand which will reduce the costs of the energy system by up to an estimated £10 billion a year by 2050.

Significant investment in innovation and jobs

A highlight of the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan is a £1 billion Net Zero innovation fund for low carbon technologies and systems. Of this, at least £100 million will be allocated for energy storage and flexibility innovation programmes. Jobs are also in the spotlight with the plan estimated to create up to 24,000 jobs by 2050. A Green Jobs taskforce is due to report in the Summer, and its findings will be supplemented with a smart skills gap analysis.

The Digitalisation Strategy has 3 key areas of focus:

  • providing leadership and coordination
  • ensuring regulation and policies incentivise digitalisation
  • collaborating with the sector to develop digital tools and infrastructure

It aims to spur innovation and competition, facilitate new consumer offers, and reduce the cost of decarbonising the energy system.

In response, Susanne Baker, associate director for Climate, Environment and Sustainability at techUK, the leading technology trade association, said: “Digital transformation is an essential enabler for a flexible and decarbonised energy sector. However, system-wide transformation requires targeted interventions and concrete actions to ensure innovation can be scaled for business-as-usual, cultural change embedded, markets function efficiently, and data is accessible to those who need it. Digital infrastructure and the necessary protections also must be in place to support it.

“Therefore, techUK today warmly welcomes the publication of the Energy Digitalisation Strategy and the updated Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan.”