Future of energy series

Turning the energy value chain upside down

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Deptford Power Station, the UK’s first, and the world’s first modern high-voltage power station, opened in 1891.

In the century since, our energy value chain has been dominated by a small number of similar large-scale generators. But in recent years, government incentives and the falling cost of technology (up to 50% over five years), have turned the value chain on its head, and our energy system has become more demanding, more local and more dynamic:

Demanding: The increased adoption of electricity as a primary power source is creating further demands on the distribution network; particularly as the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market share rises from 1% today to more than 40% by 2050.


Local: Conservative estimates predict that 40% of overall generation will be dispersed and connected to the wider distribution network by 2040 (based on Future Energy Scenarios).


Dynamic: An emphasis on clean energy has driven a 40% growth in renewables over the past five years, increasing unpredictability in energy supply across the network.

These changes could support a transition to a low-carbon economy, create greater security in our energy infrastructure, minimise network costs, and reduce consumer bills. However, with distributed generation’s rapid market penetration – photovoltaic energy (PV), for example, is 14 years ahead of our 2012 prediction – the disruption in our energy landscape creates both near- and long-term network challenges, and means distribution companies must fundamentally change the way they operate.

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