Behaviour change: Q & A with Paul Bircham

Ahead of Network's Future Networks conference ENW's Paul Bircham predicts there will be enough network capacity to handle the rise of the electric vehicle.

Behaviour change: Q & A with Paul Bircham

When networks talk about behaviour change, what do they mean?

Electricity North West conduced a three year study, known as the Power Saver Challenge, into the feasibility and demonstration of engaging consumers to change their energy consumption behaviour and thereby avoid the need for costly and disruptive network reinforcement.  The project was a success and the final report will be published shortly.  This demonstrates that a 4 to 5% sustainable reduction in peak electricity demand can be achieved.  The project also showed that to secure and utilise a behavioural change by customers, significant behavioural change is required on the part of the DNO to utilise the power of community engagement.

How hard will it be to change the behaviour?

The success of the Power Saver Challenge project shows that behavioural change by the DNO and its customers is difficult, but achievable.

Is there enough time for the DNO to adapt to the EV transition whenever that might be?

My belief is that the EV transition will be the next rapid change in the journey towards a low carbon economy.  However, there is sufficient capacity in the current distribution networks to support the initial roll-out of several million EVs. This fact, coupled with the ability of other innovative developments, including the development of the distribution system operator role, will provide sufficient time for DNOs to undertake the necessary adaptation to ensure that the EV transition is achieved at an affordable cost.

Is the industry working collectively towards the same model of DSO?

The concept of the DSO is in its early stages of development and, consequently, there are many differing views of what the role entails at this time.  This healthy debate means that I am confident that a well thought through and effective vision for the DSO model will be determined by the industry, regulator and government.  How quickly this can be achieved is a different challenge.

Paul Bircham will be speaking on behaviour change at the Future Networks conference in March, visit the event site for more information



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