The impact of liberalisation on the resilience of electricity systems

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Title: The impact of liberalisation on the resilience of electricity systems
Authors: Collins, Christopher
Item Type: Thesis or dissertation
Abstract: Over the past three decades concerns have arisen about the ability of deregulated electricity systems such as the UK’s to deliver secure supplies. Capacity margins have drawn particular attention, but a number of apparently secure systems have failed for unanticipated reasons. This has led some to question whether risk-based measures fully capture the uncertainties to which such systems are exposed, and whether the concept of “resilience” provides a framework around which to discuss less quantitative indicators. This work attempts to answer four questions. First, what are the characteristics of a resilient and secure electricity system? Second, how have these characteristics evolved over the past 25 years? Third, to what extent can these changes be attributed to privatisation & liberalisation and to the introduction of new forms of renewable generation? Fourth, how might the UK Government’s proposed policies affect the security of electricity supply? ‘Resilience’ was found to be a multi-faceted concept, but five indicators were chosen for further investigation: generation margins, system diversity, energy intensity, electricity prices and energy independence. It was shown that a decline in margins can probably not be attributed to privatisation, but that renewable generation can have a positive effect depending on the support mechanism. Diversity can be enhanced by both privatisation and some forms of renewable support, the latter also seemingly reducing a country’s import dependence, but also increasing prices. Whilst there is some evidence that policy changes can affect a system’s resilience, the suggestion is that liberalisation has not had a strong overall impact. Furthermore, achieving ‘optimal resilience’ may be inherently unachievable, meaning that policies will always need to flexible enough to respond to change, but constant enough to encourage the necessary investment for the future.
Issue Date: 2013
Date Awarded: May-2013
Supervisor: Gross, Robert
Department: Centre for Environmental Policy
Publisher: Imperial College London
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Qualification Name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Appears in Collections:Centre for Environmental Policy PhD theses

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