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25 July 2019

Mott MacDonald’s Dr Simon Harrison to chair BEIS Electricity Engineering Standards Review Independent Panel

Dr Simon Harrison, group strategic development director at Mott MacDonald, has been appointed by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to chair its Electricity Engineering Standards Review Independent Panel.

The aim of the panel is to find the best ways in which engineering standards can facilitate delivery of the government’s decarbonisation objectives and maintain reliable, secure and resilient electricity supplies at minimum cost. A key part of this is delivering an efficient electricity network within a whole electricity system, which maintains high levels of reliability and security of supply in Great Britain at least cost to consumers.

The electricity system will continue to transform as the energy system decarbonises, decentralises, digitises and consumers exercise a greater range of choices about energy. The panel will explore how engineering standards can help to unlock this transformation, and hence delivery of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the UK’s new legally binding target.

Although the industry has evolved its engineering standards over time, some of the existing standards and recommendations, particularly at distribution level, have only seen incremental changes since the 1950's. There is a risk that out-of-date standards lead to sub-optimal build decisions by network companies, which fail to reflect changing technologies and approaches, increasing costs to consumers. The performance requirements, codes and technical standards influencing engineering decisions in the electricity system also lack coherence, and are slow to change in response to the much increased pace of change now being seen.

The outputs of the review will be recommendations for how engineering standards should evolve, indications on how government can best work with other bodies to consider how proposals can be delivered and identify where action can be taken to achieve quick wins to address known problem areas.
As chair of the panel, Simon has worked with BEIS to identify a group of leading experts with experience from across the electricity industry and academia to form the panel, bringing together world class knowledge of electric power systems, community energy, data, digitisation and asset delivery to undertake a meaningful and effective review of engineering standards. The panel will be independent of government.

Simon has worked for Mott MacDonald for the past 28 years, in his current role providing support to the Board in growing and developing the whole business for the future. Most of his career has been spent in the electricity sector, unusually covering the whole spectrum of power networks, thermal, renewable and nuclear generation. He is an IET Vice President, chairs the IET’s Energy Policy Panel and also the IET/Energy Systems Catapult’s Future Power System Architecture Programme. He also sponsors Mott MacDonald’s work to build an industry coalition to lead a cross-infrastructure response to the Government’s net zero commitment.

Commenting on his appointment, Simon said: “I am proud to be chairing the panel which will provide fundamental recommendations to not only create a better outcome for consumers in the short term, but also to ensure that we are ready to unlock the full benefits of a smart and flexible electricity system in the future.”

The panel will provide an independent report with associated recommendations for both government and industry to implement appropriate changes to engineering standards by the end of March 2020.

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