The Open Networks Project is a major industry initiative that will transform the way our energy networks operate, underpinning the delivery of the smart grid. The project seeks to enable the uptake of new smart energy technologies by more and more homes, businesses, and communities in the UK. Allowing customers to take advantage of these new technologies to take control of their energy will lower costs and secure the energy we rely on every day.
The project looks change how the networks operate to facilitate the transition to a smart, flexible energy system. This will see Distribution Network Operators take a more active role in managing their networks, allowing them to address periods of high and low demand, and power outages efficiently, with new low-carbon solutions.
Open Networks brings together the nine British and Irish electricity grid operators, the British Government, the energy regulator Ofgem, respected academics, and NGOs. To implement Britain’s smart grid, the Open Networks Project is taking a whole energy system approach, committed to consulting with a wide range of stakeholders, including the gas networks, through the Advisory Group.
The UK has a dynamic energy landscape, and the Open Networks Project seeks to allow networks to better respond to lively periods of energy consumption with more Distributed Energy resources (DER). With more and more renewable energy generation occurring at the distribution level in addition to the transmission level, how these new resources are utilized by the networks will define the future smart grid, and ensure the energy system as a whole is properly equipped to deliver the energy we all rely upon into the future.
Note: early development work for this project was undertaken under the title of ENA TSO-DSO Project, but the project name has since been changed to better reflect the nature of the work.
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For more specific information on how the Open Networks Project is transforming the networks, download these fact sheets:
- Fact sheet 1: How are we using new technologies?
Fact sheet 2: What are flexibility services?
- Fact sheet 3: Case studies across Great Britain
- Fact sheet 4: You said, we did
- Fact sheet 5: Bringing benefits to the public
The objectives of the overall Open Networks Project are to:
- Share information and work collaboratively across network operators, with Ofgem, BEIS and other stakeholders to progress the transition to DSO and improve outcomes for customers.
- Maintain a leading position for network operators in the development of Open Networks.
- Ensure that the customer is kept at the centre of any process development to ensure that their experience can be improved, we allow connecting customers to realise value from their technology and that our outputs deliver lower cost outcomes for all consumers and society.
- Bring consistency in approaches across networks through existing and new processes to support the transition to DSO, interactions with each other and interactions with customers.
- Enable data visibility and better access to non-confidential data across transmission and distribution and for customers.
- Ensure conflicts of interest are proactively identified and appropriate measures are put in place to address them appropriately.
- Take a whole electricity system approach to ensure that the value across the wider system is considered and widen this to consider a whole energy system approach.
- Inform the regulatory debate around funding (including ET2 & ED2). These overall objectives underpin how we approach the development work in Open Networks and then we have further targeted objectives for each workstream.
To realise these objectives, ENA and its members have created six workstreams under the project. Each of these workstreams will have a range of outputs to produce that will be undertaken by Subject Matter Experts. This project and the pace of change is unprecedented in the industry, as are the whole system challenges that need to be solved. Increased transparency and coordination between DNOs, IDNOs, TOs, SO, and the wider energy community is required to deliver an Internet of Energy. In recognition of this, all members of the Open Networks Project have committed to provide significant resources to each workstream of the project.
The overall governance structure of the project can be found in the diagram below:
Scope and Timelines
To find out more about the Open Networks Project, including details of workstreams, deliverables, and timescales, our Project Initiation Document (PID) is available here.