The role of transmission networks in the evolution of a low carbon electricity system in the UK

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Title: The role of transmission networks in the evolution of a low carbon electricity system in the UK
Authors: Hughes, Nicholas
Item Type: Thesis or dissertation
Abstract: The UK’s commitments to addressing climate change require a radical restructuring of the electricity sector. This thesis examines what role the electricity transmission networks could play in this transformation. In order to examine the possible role of policy making within a socio-technical system under conditions of long-term uncertainty, a novel scenario method is developed which accounts for political values, actor dynamics and technological networks. The approach is used to examine possible pathways for the electricity transmission network within alternative policy value-sets, which are defined by the level of locational signal provided to generators in respect of their network usage, and the degree of anticipatory or strategic planning involved in network policy. The scenarios emphasise the importance of a locational signal which acts at the operational timescale as well as the investment timescale. They also suggest a role for strategic coordination, particularly to join up planning across onshore, offshore and interconnector regimes. However, due to the range of possible generation and network configurations the scenarios span, they do not support the idea of a central design authority working to a single network blueprint. Specific policy recommendations aim to incorporate these suggestions within the grain of the existing policy trajectory and its prevailing value system. The two principle policy recommendations are therefore, the inclusion of a locational signal within the BSUoS charge in order to better reflect network usage at the operational timescale, and the establishment of an independent body with a remit to identify and contribute needs cases for cross-regime strategic coordination opportunities. The latter recommendation could be achieved with some adaption and clarification of the remit of the ENSG.
Content Version: Open Access
Issue Date: Aug-2014
Date Awarded: Dec-2015
Supervisor: Gross, Robert
Sponsor/Funder: UKERC (Organization)
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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