A collaborative multi-vector research programme in Wales is demonstrating how the energy networks are tackling the climate change challenge and working to deliver a decarbonised future, during a visit from the energy regulator last week.

Ofgem chairman Martin Cave met with electricity network operator Western Power Distribution, which has a base in Cwmbran, and local gas network Wales & West Utilities at the Baglan Innovation Centre in Port Talbot, along with leading academics and industry partners at the University of South Wales to understand more about Flexible Integrated Energy Systems – a multi-million research and demonstration operation aiming to achieve a resilient, green and affordable energy system in east and west Wales and the Valleys. The project is funded by the Welsh European Funding Office.

WPD and Wales & West Utilities are playing key roles in this innovative scheme, which is being led by a consortium of Cardiff and Swansea universities, the University of South Wales, Neath Port Talbot Borough Council and Tata Steel, and is working alongside multiple energy industry partners including WPD, Wales & West Utilities and National Grid. Local community partners are key to the Flexis multi-vector approach.

During a tour of the University of Wales’ Hydrogen Research and Development Centre, Professor Cave was informed of the potential of hydrogen as a means of decarbonising heat and transport as well as accommodating more renewable energy on the electricity network.

Roger Hey, DSO systems and projects manager at WPD, said: “Tackling the global climate emergency is first and foremost an energy challenge. Flexis is an example of how a whole systems approach can affect positive change at local levels, which ultimately manifests into a national benefit.

“Network companies like ours are already working with communities and local governments to deliver this change – and we want explore new ways to work more closely.

“We’re playing a leading role in helping reach our Net Zero target, by connecting greater levels of renewable energy while finding innovative solutions to enable low carbon technologies in areas such as transport and heat.”