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The implications of an increasingly decentralised energy system


  • Wolfe, Philip


The UK government has signalled that the increasing use of decentralised energy forms part of its plan to achieve the UK's contribution to the EU's sustainable energy targets. Much of the technology for decentralised energy already exists, although it is not widely used in the UK. There will be need for new developments in onsite energy production, and in the delivery, integration and regulatory infrastructure to support it. Other State of Science reviews for this project describe particular energy technologies, but this paper highlights selected developments in thermal technologies and in biological processes which offer the potential for breakthroughs in converting biomass to energy. The effectiveness and deployment of decentralised energy can be enhanced by systems and infrastructure technology, not just for electricity but also in heat and biogas networks. Such systems are expected to be a focus of rapid development over the next two decades. Opportunities exist particularly in active networks, smart metering and intelligent tariff-interactive load management. Substantial regulatory and policy reform will be required to optimise the potential for onsite energy generation and effective two-way interchanges with centralised energy systems. There will be need for a regulatory system for heat networks and appropriate incentives for active networks. The development of an energy services business model in the industry will not progress until the compensation model changes to make it viable. The strength of the drivers for a trend towards decentralised energy, coupled with a wide range of scientific developments, should make this a very dynamic sector and present a host of new opportunities for British technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolfe, Philip, 2008. "The implications of an increasingly decentralised energy system," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 4509-4513, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:36:y:2008:i:12:p:4509-4513

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. McDonald, Jim, 2008. "Adaptive intelligent power systems: Active distribution networks," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 4346-4351, December.
    2. Edwards, P.P. & Kuznetsov, V.L. & David, W.I.F. & Brandon, N.P., 2008. "Hydrogen and fuel cells: Towards a sustainable energy future," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 4356-4362, December.
    3. Hinnells, Mark, 2008. "Combined heat and power in industry and buildings," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 4522-4526, December.
    4. Bagnall, Darren M. & Boreland, Matt, 2008. "Photovoltaic technologies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 4390-4396, December.
    5. Tavner, Peter, 2008. "Wind power as a clean-energy contributor," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 4397-4400, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Foster & Liam Wagner, 2014. "International experience with transformations in electricity markets: A Short Literature Review," Energy Economics and Management Group Working Papers 2-2014, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    2. Quiggin, Daniel & Cornell, Sarah & Tierney, Michael & Buswell, Richard, 2012. "A simulation and optimisation study: Towards a decentralised microgrid, using real world fluctuation data," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 549-559.
    3. Juntunen, Jouni K. & Hyysalo, Sampsa, 2015. "Renewable micro-generation of heat and electricity—Review on common and missing socio-technical configurations," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 857-870.
    4. Iacobescu, Flavius & Badescu, Viorel, 2011. "Metamorphoses of cogeneration-based district heating in Romania: A case study," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 269-280, January.
    5. Engelken, Maximilian & Römer, Benedikt & Drescher, Marcus & Welpe, Isabell M. & Picot, Arnold, 2016. "Comparing drivers, barriers, and opportunities of business models for renewable energies: A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 795-809.
    6. Giordano, Vincenzo & Fulli, Gianluca, 2012. "A business case for Smart Grid technologies: A systemic perspective," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 252-259.
    7. Antonelli, Marco & Martorano, Luigi, 2012. "A study on the rotary steam engine for distributed generation in small size power plants," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 642-647.
    8. Müller, Matthias Otto & Stämpfli, Adrian & Dold, Ursula & Hammer, Thomas, 2011. "Energy autarky: A conceptual framework for sustainable regional development," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(10), pages 5800-5810, October.


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