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The dilemma facing blockchain in energy

The hype surrounding blockchain in energy has undoubtedly dropped off since 2017, as the realities of moving towards commercialisation has proved far harder than many expected back then.

Most of blockchain’s potential applications to new energy, like virtual community energy trading, EV charging roaming and green energy verification, remain as small pilot projects. Whilst it does still generate interest when brought up at energy industry and tech conferences, those working with blockchain day-to-day are trying to shift the conversation away from the underlying technology and towards the solutions it provides. However, the current reality is that it is ‘permissioned’ blockchains that make most sense for energy applications, and there are two key challenges that we think may hold it back.

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Covid-19: implications for new energy

Why Covid-19 might not be all bad news for the energy transition

The global pandemic is truly an ugly black swan event for the world, disrupting all areas of our society and economy.  At face value, the new energy sector is no exception to this. But we argue here that there are reasons for optimism: history tells us that times of emergency enable rapid change in ways that cannot be anticipated, and it’s possible that these may play out in ways that will support an accelerated energy transition.  So, can the industry start thinking ahead now, to what a post Covid-19 ‘new normal’ could look like?

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Takeaways from Data Centre World and how the increase in data processing will impact the energy transition

With the amount of data processed globally continuously increasing, it may seem surprising that energy demand from data centres has remained stable for the past decade. This has been possible by minimising power requirements of non-IT equipment in data centres, leading to a drastic reduction in power usage effectiveness of many centres.

However, as more hyperscale data centres, which can have a demand of over 100 MW, are added to the grid and improvements in energy efficiencies provide fewer opportunities to save energy, we are looking at the role these large energy consumers can play in the energy transition.

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The electrification of heat in The Netherlands: new build vs retrofit

The Netherlands is at the forefront of the move to decarbonise the European heating sector through electrification of heat, driven by a policy goal to phase out natural gas. In the Netherlands, this drive has been strengthened by a series of earthquakes in the north of the country that have been caused by natural gas extraction. This is quite a shift as, similarly to the UK, the Netherlands has previously been a country dominated by gas heating. 85-90% of homes currently use natural gas as their main heat source.  

Cate Lyon, manager of Delta-EE's Electrification of Heat research, says that building regulations have been the key to kick-starting the electrification of heat in new build housing.

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The benefits of energy insights for customers and companies

Smart meters and connected devices are throwing up a huge amount of data and energy retailers are working hard to look at how they can use this information to offer insights to customers. So where is the value in this new opportunity for energy retailers and customers alike? 

David Trevithick, Energy Insights + research manager at Delta-EE, explains energy insights are now a mainstream offering and energy retailers must think about offering advanced energy insight solutions, with the customer in mind. 

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The importance of equality and boundaries in local energy systems

 

The EnergyREV workshop in London last week focused on measuring performance of smart local energy systems. The event was attended by a variety of stakeholders, ranging from academics to utilities and those directly involved with creating local energy systems.

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Rebutting some of the myths and challenges about air/air heat pumps in the heating market

In my last blog, I explained why I think now is the time for air/air heat pumps (A/A HP).  There are strong opportunities in the residential heating market in Europe. But in our conversations across the heating and energy industry, we still meet challenges from those not yet engaged in A/A HPs. Here are some of the major myths and challenges we hear - and why we still think A/A HPs should not be ignored.

Challenge #1: “A/AHPs are good for cooling but suboptimal as a primary heating solution”.

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The murky world of flexibility platforms

The word ‘platform’ is one of the biggest energy business buzz words of the 21st century. Across the energy industry everyone has been talking about them, developing them (or being told they need to develop one) and the demand side flexibility space is no exception to this. But what do we even mean by ‘platform’? Do all these flexibility platforms do the same thing? And if not, how do they fit together?

In the last few months, the Flexibility Research team has been looking in depth at the murky world of platforms to answer these questions. There’s been no simple answers, but through discussions with contacts across the sector we’ve developed a framework of four types of platforms and their capabilities. Whilst it’s still early stages, there are examples of each of these platforms interacting with each other to cover the full demand side flexibility value chain.

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Black Start in the world of 'new energy': how to recover the energy system when coal is a thing of the past

“Black Start” is the process by which the National Electricity Transmission System (NETS) would be recovered following a total system collapse. This is a not uncommon occurrence in some regions of the world but thankfully) unheard of in the UK; that does not mean we should not plan for such an eventuality.

However, the current approach, which requires the constant availability of a thermal plant on hot standby, is costly in both environmental and financial terms (around £50 million annually).

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How quickly will demand side flexibility become business as usual for European DSOs?

In late 2019 we completed a major study into the market status, challenges and lessons learnt for European Distribution System Operators (DSOs) using demand side flexibility to manage their networks.

The study identified that the UK is the leading market in Europe – and probably the world - in terms of DSOs utilising demand side flexibility, with the Netherlands quite close behind. In most other countries, projects have not moved beyond pilots or trials.

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