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UK grid to be 'zero carbon' by 2025

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The operator and manger of the UK’s electricity supply has announced plans to remove all carbon emissions from the national grid. 

Electricity System Operator (ESO), who operates the power network on behalf of National Grid, wants the UK grid to be “zero carbon” by 2025. It plans to do this by using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools to allow for real-time management of UK energy assets.  

ESO currently relies on a mix of fossil fuel-based generation and renewable energy sources to power the grid. 

However, ESO has identified major changes that need to take place to ensure that the growing UK renewable energy portfolio can be utilised to its fullest extent.  

The changes - outlined in ESO report Zero Carbon Operation 2025 - involve reducing dependence on gas and oil-fired power plants, which are currently heavily relied on. 

“[ESO will] enhance the forecasting tools for wind, solar, embedded and transmission using AI and machine learning techniques […] to look at a range of scenarios and real-time management of the network,” the report states.  

ESO director Fintan Slye, said this change to greater use of renewables will require “fundamental changes” to how we operate our power systems. 

“Zero carbon operation of the electricity system by 2025 means a fundamental change to how our system was designed to operate; integrating newer technologies right across the system – from large-scale off-shore wind to domestic scale solar panels – and increasing demand-side participation, using new smart digital systems to manage and control the system in real-time,” he said.  

“We will identify the systems, services and products we will need to run a zero-carbon network and design the new competitive marketplaces needed to source these as efficiently as possible, from both new and existing companies. We believe that promoting competition will ultimately lead to better value for consumers.” 

ESO is aiming to launch tendering for partners to develop its new tools and integrated AI this winter, and deliver the new upgraded national grid by 2025.  

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