Over the last year or so Xero Energy has seen a notable increase in interest from clients as to the opportunities to develop and own transmission and distribution networks. We have provided a variety of wide ranging, focused and sometimes horizon scanning briefs to clients looking to facilitate generation projects, roll out new business models and put together local high value energy systems.
At transmission we already have the competitive offshore transmission regime, and the nascent competitive onshore regime (CATO regime) with opportunities also around interconnectors. At distribution, the scene is different with Independent Distribution Network Operators providing a degree of competition alongside private wire grids. There are also varying levels of opportunity at all levels to develop some of the works and hand them over to a regulated owner.
But are the opportunities enough? Perhaps not and perhaps the regulator should be allowing more merchant based approaches, looking at allowing further competition in connection works, and considering how to better facilitate new private wire developments.
Aside from the regulatory barriers, cost is often the leveller for grand ideas. However, all of this also needs to also be considered in light of what is expected to be a flood of electric vehicles, a change to a more distributed and consumer based grid system, new ways of servicing the grid itself and perhaps a later tide of electric heating. Wherever the current level of interest in network development and ownership takes us, the future is going to be much more diverse and exciting.