All of us are energy consumers, and most of us are customers of energy supply and distribution businesses, so it’s not surprising that most people have at least a passing awareness of what has become known as the ‘energy trilemma’ (reliability, affordability, sustainability). Sterling Power Group is playing a major part in addressing the modernisation of networks, the provision of generating capacity; and the training of engineers and craft persons to address the deficit in the industry skills base. But where does Sterling Geo fit in?
The future development and redesign of energy networks is necessarily predicated on detailed analysis of the process of energy transformation and utilisation. However, at the same time, the introduction of true innovation across the energy and utilities market is quite difficult as the incentives, dictated largely by the regulators, are engineered by policy without any real consideration of the dynamic and flexible commercial markets in which the innovators, often small businesses, operate.
The industry desperately needs a whole systems approach as, only by understanding the entirety of the energy system - the transmission and distribution infrastructures, market mechanisms, data flows, regulatory frameworks, the local and broader environment, political aspirations and constraints and most of all, consumer behaviours, can we model, demonstrate and measure the effectiveness of the ‘smart’ networks of the future. What a long-term future it is, since the assets we decide upon today will still be in service in 40, 50 or even 80 or more years from now. If we look back to the average home or business of pre-war Britain could our great-grandparents have even dreamt what their great-grandchildren would have expected to be routinely and reliably available to them in the 21st Century, so why should we believe that we are able to predict the shape of the energy infrastructure of the 22nd Century today?
The key to sustainability therefore, is flexibility and the options to change and reconfigure the infrastructure; and flexibility can only be designed into a network if the designers truly understand all of the likely outcomes – for example, how might that redundant area of brownfield land be redeveloped? How might global warming influence the flooding of that field right next to the grid substation? How might urban sprawl place demands on the infrastructure? How might the overcrowding of roads move more goods onto electrified rail networks, which subsequently demand freight terminals with 30MW of load in the middle of absolutely nowhere?
These are all questions which the technology and applications under development by Sterling Geo are focused on answering …. Data is all around us – What we want is Information, what we want are ANSWERS…..