Energy industry undergoing a ‘chaotic revolution’, former National Grid boss says

Energy industry undergoing a 'chaotic revolution', former National Grid boss says

Former National Grid boss Steve Holliday has championed the role that businesses and innovators have played in igniting a "chaotic revolution" in the energy sector, by accelerating demand for renewable energy and battery storage installations.

Kicking off the agenda for edie’s SPARK! Energy Leaders event in Birmingham last week, the Energy Institute’s president-elect and former National Grid chief executive Steve Holliday delivered a rousing keynote speech on the current state of business energy in the UK – and how it has changed over the past six decades.

Holliday noted that a change of pace in the sector had seen a switch away from a focus on scale to “reverse” the trends and place more power into the hands of individual energy users. The former National Grid boss claimed that the movement was a “chaotic revolution” rather than a “step-by-step” transformation.

Arguing that a shift towards decarbonised, decentralised, digitalised and democratised energy had brought about “seismic” change from a supply-side industry to a demand-side industry, Holliday said: “It’s almost as if we are reversing where we were in the 1950s, when everything was conglomerating in the global economy and businesses were merging together.”

Holliday championed the role of solar and wind in driving a change in how users interacted and consumed energy. Almost 30% of the UK's electricity in 2017 was generated from renewables, nearly a 5% increase on the previous year, as increased solar and wind installations continue to decarbonise the UK's energy and electricity mix.

The Energy Institute’s president-elect praised the role that Government policy – notably the Climate Change Act - had played in creating an enabling economic environment for renewables, despite recent cuts to legislation mechanisms including Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs).

Finally, Holliday claimed that businesses, organisations, start-ups and innovators had revolutionised how commercial energy users consume energy, noting the importance of battery storage in supporting businesses in decarbonising electricity mixes.

In fact, new research by trade bodies RenewableUK and the Solar Trade Association (STA) has found that planning permission applications to install energy storage facilities in the UK have quadrupled since 2016, with a massive increase in capacity expected in the next few years.

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