The Open Networks Project is a major energy industry initiative that will transform the way our energy networks work, underpinning the delivery of the smart grid. This project brings together 9 of UK and Ireland's electricity grid operators, respected academics, NGOs, Government departments and the energy regulator Ofgem. Note that early development work was undertaken under the banner of ENA TSO-DSO Project, but that this has now been renamed to the ENA Open Networks Project to better communicate what we are trying to achieve. The project will:
• Help give households, businesses & networks the ability to take advantage of new energy technologies to take control of their energy and lower their costs
• Take a whole energy system approach to designing solutions by consulting with a wide range of stakeholders, including the gas networks, through the Advisory Group
• FACTSHEET: A useful factsheet for the project with further information can be found here
Objectives, scope and governance
The objectives of the Open Networks Project are to:
1. Develop improved T-D processes around connections, planning, shared TSO/DSO services and operation
2. Assess the gaps between the experience our customers currently receive and what they would like, and identify any further changes to close the gaps within the context of a ‘level playing field’ and common T & D approach
3. Develop a more detailed view of the required transition from DNO to DSO including the impacts on existing organisation capability
4. Consider the charging requirements of enduring electricity transmission/distribution systems
As a result of these objectives, ENA and its members have created four workstreams under the project; T-D Process, Customer Experience, DSO Transition and Charging. Each of these workstreams will have a range of outputs to produce that will be undertaken by Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). A more detailed overview of the project can be found here.
Given the pace of change and increasing requirement to solve system challenges on a whole system basis, increased transparency and co-ordination between DNOs, IDNOs, TOs, SO and the wider energy community is required. Thus all members have committed to provide significant resource to each workstream of the project.
The five workstreams will be overseen by an overarching Steering Group. The overall governance structure of the project can be seen in the diagram below.
The Open Networks Project Steering Group is comprised of each of ENA’s members; TO, SO, DNO and IDNO representatives. The Steering Group will meet monthly and be documented by an agenda and meeting notes. The Steering Group will assess:
Priorities and scope through the Project Initiation Document and project plan with updates
Progress against plan
Escalated risks and issues
Costs against budget
The Steering Group will represent the networks from a united programme perspective. The Steering Group is to provide the strategic direction for the workstreams, and ensure that outputs and learning is disseminated between workstreams. Alongside overseeing the delivery of the project, the Steering Group will undertake horizon scanning to identity upcoming issues and make sure that solutions are being developed well in advance of when those issues start to impact networks and their customers. It is proposed that Ofgem and BEIS are invited to attend every second or third Steering Group meeting to update them on the project’s progress.
Cross cutting issues
It is important to note that the workstreams are all inter-dependent, and it will be the responsibility of the Steering Group and workstream leads to ensure that there is cross pollination of information between workstreams on development and specific outputs.
Apart from the inter-dependencies between workstreams, as can be seen in the figure above, there are a number of major cross-cutting issues that will need to be addressed within each of the workstreams and subsequent outputs. These include stakeholder engagement (see below), regulatory and policy considerations (particularly the EU Winter Package, implementation of EU Network Codes and subsequent flexibility working groups), commercial considerations and the former Smart Grid Forum WS6 actions, which have been divided by category and allocated to the individual workstreams.
ENA and its members understand the impact that the changing electricity network is having on customers, and they want to ensure that customers can benefit from a smart, flexible energy system. ENA members will continue to have customer interests (including vulnerable consumers) at the heart of any future developments. This will include:
Continuing to deliver safe and secure operation of electrical networks
Ensuring efficient and timely access to the network for customer
Providing value for money
The project will undertake a stakeholder analysis, to ensure the project structure will provide the channels necessary to govern and communicate the work appropriately, as well as identify any additional stakeholder activity that might be required. The customer experience workstream will be a key factor to ensuring consistent customer connection processes across the UK are delivered, as well as making sure that the network companies improve visibility to customers.
As a part of this project, an Open Networks Project Advisory Group is proposed, to allow the project to inform key stakeholders of project progress and for those stakeholders to contribute to the thinking of the Steering Group. The constitution and attendees at this group will be driven by stakeholder analysis, but an early view is that it will include a range of stakeholders from across the industry including suppliers, aggregators, industry groups, academia, generators, consumer groups, the gas industry and other parties as appropriate. This group should be aligned in timing with the Steering Group and would meet bimonthly initially, and then 6 monthly.