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International engagement and cooperation key to grid enhancement

The GB energy regulator, Ofgem recently worked with key stakeholders in Asia to share lessons on grid infrastructure for Net Zero.

Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) brought energy stakeholders from around the world to Asia at the end of October. It gave Ofgem a great opportunity to discuss with regulators and government ministries the work everyone is doing to upgrade our grids for Net Zero.

We were invited to SIEW by the Energy Markets Authority, Singapore and joined the panels of various events - including the ‘Future of the Grids’ sessions. Discussions included:

  • incentivising greater deployment of renewable energy sources;

  • the frameworks available to support investment in grid infrastructure;

  • lessons learnt in attracting private capital to the region’s grid investments; and

  • policy and regulatory reforms necessary to ensure continued grid functionality and affordability.

Despite being there for the full week, it is fair to say that grid infrastructure made up most of our discussions during our time in Singapore. And it is easy to see why because the grid needs to be capable of facilitating the increase in renewable energy we are seeing.

Another important reason to visit Asia was our partnership with the FCDO programme UK PACT. UK PACT has been invaluable in recent years in allowing Ofgem to share the good and the bad from our work to help meet Net Zero targets. Following our week in Singapore we moved to Malaysia to discuss grids over two days with a variety of Malaysian energy stakeholders. The Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change, the Energy Commission and Tenaga Nasional Berhad joined us for a detailed two-day discussion on preparing the Malaysian grid for increased renewables. The Malaysian Government is very interested in the ASEAN power grid and how to better connect its renewables potential with other countries in the region. Ofgem has a level of knowledge in this area given the interconnected nature of the European electricity market. National Grid also joined these discussions, and we covered the whole value chain – the role of regulator vs system operator; current GB challenges and required responses; and the history of network regulation in GB.

After discussing grids with the Malaysians for two days we moved to Vietnam for a further two-day session with EVN – the state-owned energy company. Vietnam also has an interest in ensuring its grid is ready for an increase in renewable energy. Again, we were joined by colleagues from National Grid to discuss a range of topics from interconnection and offshore wind to network price controls and the role of the system operator.

Everyone was aware that enhanced interconnectivity between the countries in the region will enable them to take advantage of the diverse renewables dispersed across the region and brings substantial benefits.  Cross-border interconnectors could promote resource sharing and lead to tremendous benefits, including economical, operational and environmental. All the countries would enhance the flexibility to accommodate an increasing share of renewables, particularly solar and wind.

The transition to net zero needs a grid system that can cope with our future methods of producing electricity so we are keen to join the UK Government and National Grid to continue these discussions with our colleagues in Asia. Grids are fundamental to meeting net zero targets and the countries we met with have an excellent opportunity to connect their electricity grids more.

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