The way the grid operates is changing. The companies which own and operate the various parts of the grid are ‘regulated monopolies’. As they do not compete to run the grid, the level of profit they make (and which they can pay to their shareholders) along with the costs they charge for use of the networks are regulated by OFGEM – the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets. Generators are charged for the use of the network through ‘Use of System’ charges, which also form part of all our electricity bills.
The manner in which the grid networks operate is set to change significantly in the coming decade and this is likely to create new opportunities for community energy projects. According to OFGEM’s Decarbonisation Programme Action Plan:
"To achieve net zero will require a huge increase in renewable and low carbon electricity, especially to meet new sources of demand such as electric vehicles"
Although offshore wind farms are seen as an important source of additional renewable energy, more onshore renewables will also be required. These will need to be developed in a way which is integrated with an electricity grid which operates in a much smarter way than is currently the case. ‘Smarter’ in this case means more capable of directly linking supply of electricity to actual demand in real time. For this to be possible, some power generation as well as some demand for power will have to be capable of being switched on and off rapidly i.e. in a flexible way.