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Future Pathways for Energy Networks: A Review of International Experiences in High Income Countries


Energy networks are the systems of pipes and wires by which different energy vectors are transported from where they are produced to where they are needed. As such, these networks are central to facilitating countries’ moves away from a reliance on fossil fuels to a system based around the efficient use of renewable and other low carbon forms of energy. In this review we highlight the challenges facing energy networks from this transition in a sample of key high income countries. We identify the technical and other innovations being implemented to meet these challenges and describe some of the new policy and regulatory developments that are incentivising the required changes. We then review evidence from the literature about the benefits of moving to a more integrated approach based on the concept of a Multi-Vector Energy Network (MVEN). Under this approach the different networks are planned and operated together to achieve greater functionality and performance than simply the sum of the individual networks. We find that most studies identify a range of benefits from an MVEN approach, but that these findings are based on model simulations. Further work is therefore needed to verify whether the benefits can be realised in practice and to identify how any risks can be mitigated.

Funding source: We gratefully acknowledge support for this work by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council through the Supergen Energy Networks Hub, grant number EP/S00078X/2.
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: United Kingdom

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