Integration imperative: Q&A with Philip New

Integration imperative: Q&A with Philip New

Cross-vector solutions are not an energy system nice to have says Catapult chief executive.

Network's recent feature on energy systems integration - Building the Dream - was informed in part by an interview with Energy Systems Catapult chief executive Philip New.

Below we highlight some gems from that exchange wich clearly set out New's thoughts on the imperative of establishing a whole system apprach to energy:

Why is it important to think about cross-vector energy solutions?

“One of our primary beliefs is that for UK energy to be transformed, and policy aims met within the constraints of the trilemma, it will require genuine whole-system innovation that goes way beyond the technical. It’s behavioural, its institutional, it’s about markets and structures…

“For any one vertical or vector to believe that it can provide a self-standing response to the energy trilemma almost seems to be self-evidently questionable because of the significant interaction of energy use that we see today – and that will increase.”

What’s the biggest risk arising from all the change occurring in the energy system today?

“A risk is that we collectively fail to align sufficiently around the transitions that are required – that inertia plays out and we get to a time when the cost and the disruption and the complexity of making change become so great that either we duck it or we find ourselves with a much greater challenge than we have today.”

What the role of Future Power System Architecture project* in enabling system transformation? Will it end up establishing an “architect” body to administrate for that transformation?

“A lot of credible work has been done which suggests that a way of responding to this challenge is to have a stronger sense of the architecture of the system – that feels sensible. Whether or not it is then appropriate to have an architect is a very different question and speaks to a whole different set of considerations…

 “It’s not about picking winners but it is about being able to synthesise all of the information from our architectures and modelling so that it can inform debates around business models.”

Will the FPSA project go on to look at other parts of the energy system?

“It would be wonderful to be able to broaden FPSA so that it began to reflect something that is genuinely cross-vector as well as to deepen it so that we start to get great technical specificity. Its utility will expand as a consequence of it becoming both cross vector and more granular.”

* The Future Power System Architecture project was commissioned by the Department for Energy and Climate change. It seeks to improve understanding of the new of different technical functions that will be required in the UK electricity system up to 2030 in response to trends such as decentralisations and decarbonisation. The project is being run by the Institution for Engineering and Technology and the Energy Systems Catapult.

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