Are we ready to let consumer choice drive the energy system?

This debate, on 20 April 2017, discussed the risks and opportunities for the UK’s power system as consumers increasingly choose electric vehicles and small scale renewables.


  1. Our expert panel were: Nigel Turvey, network strategy and innovation manager at Western Power Distribution; Roisin Quinn, head of energy strategy and policy at National Grid; Seb Henbest, head of Europe, Middle East and Africa at Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Martin Crouch, senior partner, improving regulation at Ofgem. The debate was chaired by Dustin Benton, acting policy director at Green Alliance.
  2. Dustin Benton opened the event with a summary of the conclusions of Green Alliance's report, People power: how consumer choice is changing the UK energy system.
  3. Roisin Quinn explained how National Grid is responding to changes in the energy system and emphasised that there are big opportunities for different players to work collaboratively.
  4. Nigel Turvey explained how WPD, as a distribution network operator, is reacting to the rise in uptake of small scale energy technologies in the South West. He had concerns about Green Alliance's proposal that there should be an independent system designer, and suggested regional development plans were a better solution.
  5. Martin Crouch of Ofgem said there's a need to consider where technology could go in the future, such as the impact of self driven cars on the power system. And that responding to consumer preferences and new business models should be a priority, rather than top down design. He was surprised at the prediction of a gradual growth to 30 per cent market share for EVs by 2040, believing they would either fail by then, or be dominant.