At present the national power system is still led by conventional big power plants that inject large amounts of power into the high voltage transmission networks. For end consumers to access the powers the high voltage must be transformed to medium voltages by local distribution networks.
Distributed generation (also known as embedded generation) is electricity generated within the distribution networks rather than the transmission network so operate in the 2kV to 35kV range.
There are many types and sizes of distributed generation, including Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants, wind farms, and hydroelectric power, to name just the most common.
Recently there’s been many changes to the industry and the entire energy sector is waiting with bated breath for more details from the government on the direction of energy policy.
For example, there has been a string of policy changes that may negatively impact on the industry, in the last two years Ofgem has de-rated benefits for batteries in the capacity market, eliminated feed-in-tariffs for rooftop solar and removed embedded benefits for distributed generation and storage. From October 1st government now plans to increase VAT on home solar and storage from 5% to 20% network charges and hike VAT for homeowners who invest in residential solar and storage.
On balance though there is more silver lining than cloud. Following the closure of the feed-in-tariff scheme to new generation back in March this year, the UK saw a predictable drop in residential and commercial solar panel installations.
In order to revive the sector, the government announced that it intends to implement a new replacement scheme, named the Smart Export Guarantee which will come into effect from January 1st next year and be available to technologies up to a capacity of 5MW, including photovoltaic, hydro, micro-combined heat and power (with an electrical capacity of 50kW or less) onshore wind and anaerobic digestion.
According to Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry last year, with the Offshore Wind Sector Deal offshore wind is set to power more than 30% of British electricity by 2030. The Crown Estate & Crown Estate Scotland has released new seabed land from 2019 for new offshore wind developments and we could see the number of jobs triple to 27,000 by 2030.
In the figures released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), total renewable generation increased by 9.2% on the same quarter last year to 31.1 terawatt hours, so it’s clear that although strong government commitments are still required for the sector, there is a surge in growth both in the need for distributed generation and the need for many more engineers trained to operate on interfacing power supplies with distribution networks.
In order to ensure the industry need for engineers to be confident working in the rapidly evolving field of distributed generation, the Institute of Engineering and Technology has specifically designed a course that’s a combination of technical information and real-world case studies where attendees study a large range of topics from induction generators to power electronics, protection and standards. All the classes are taught by industry leaders able to share critical life lessons about the industry and practitioners will be able to network with many other companies to build life-long relationships across fields.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is registered as a Charity in England and Wales (No. 211014) and Scotland (No. SC038698).
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