UCL Energy Institute


A Thousand Flowers bloom: energy economic modelling of microgeneration dense futures for the UK


30 October 2015

Transition pathways to a sustainable energy future depend not only on specific physical and technical factors but are also influenced by social, political and economic considerations. The UK electricity system has evolved under a mixture of government and market led regimes, and is dominated today by large-scale central generators. One possible future transition could see the emergence of a more distributed system with an increased reliance on microgeneration and community-scale energy technologies. Several UK techno-economic studies have explored the potential of distributed generation, but have generally not considered the impacts of a microgeneration-dense future on other economic sectors. ESME is a technology rich partial equilibrium model of the UK energy system. As part of its broad portfolio of energy technologies, ESME includes a range of microgeneration systems, including micro-CHP, micro-wind, building-integrated photovoltaics, and distributed energy storage.

This paper explores the implications of a microgeneration-dense future, in a scenario narrative called Thousand Flowers. The provision of electricity and heat in buildings, as well as wider system interactions with the transport and industry sectors are explored using ESME. Model outputs are compared against an alternative scenario, Central Coordination, which follows a future technology pathway that is more dependent on centralised low carbon generators such as nuclear power plants. The results show significant total system cost differentials between scenarios, and that microgeneration deployment at scale in a UK context could have important implications for the use of bioenergy and the future role of the gas network. The study illustrates how some microgenerators, such as micro-CHP, could face different resource and marginal cost pressures through time, and demonstrates the benefits of adopting a wider system perspective when analyzing the value of microgeneration to the future energy system.

A Thousand Flowers bloom: energy economic modelling of microgeneration dense futures for the UK. The 4th International Conference on Microgeneration and Related Technology (Microgen IV) Tokyo, Japan.

Li, F.G.N. (2015)

The full text of this article is not available through UCL Discovery.