Select Committee highlights importance of innovative, flexible networks

For immediate release – Friday 17 June 2016

The Energy and Climate Change Select Committee has today (Friday) published its report into Low Carbon Network Infrastructure, recognising that the “networks are at the heart of the UK’s low carbon ambition”. Energy Networks Association (ENA) gave evidence to the Committee’s inquiry.

The Committee’s report highlighted the changing role and nature of networks through smart grids and the evolution from Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to Distribution System Operators (DSOs), something that support for innovation on the GB networks has been critical in enabling. Commenting on this, ENA Chief Executive David Smith said: 

“The Select Committee is absolutely right to recognise the value of DNOs moving to DSOs and the role that innovation funding has played in starting this process has been hugely beneficial. This natural evolution will maximise the value of new technology and equipment, alongside the potential for more flexible balancing at a regional level that can help lower costs for consumers.”

The Committee also addressed the challenges faced by network operators and small-scale generators as we aim to connect more distributed generation (DG) in the most cost-effective and fair way. ENA and its members have been working with the DG community on ways to improve this process. Commenting on these measures, David Smith said:

“The growth in renewable generation connecting to the distribution network has surpassed all expectations in recent years. Through ‘Connections Milestones’ and ‘Assessment and Design Fees’ we want to address the unused capacity and speculative connection applications which tie up room on the network and increase the time and cost of connections that prevent other shovel-ready projects.

“We welcome the Committee’s support for appropriate anticipatory investment too. While the economic signals about the location of connections is important for ensuring best value for money for consumers, allowing DNOs to invest ahead of need in certain circumstances will be beneficial in the long term.”

There was widespread support for green gas and alternative gas sources as part of achieving a low carbon solution to heating our homes. Innovation projects looking at the potential mixes of gas on the network such as biomethane and hydrogen have shown significant potential and are already being deployed. David Smith said:

“Meeting peak demand without gas would be very costly and the Government’s strategy recognises the important role for renewable, green gas as part of having a low carbon solution. There is a great benefit in the Government and Ofgem giving a clear signal through indicative targets and supporting the growth of these areas.”

ENDS

ENA is the voice of the networks representing the ‘wires and pipes’ transmission and distribution network operators for gas and electricity in the UK and Ireland.

The Select Committee Report into Low Carbon Network Infrastructure can be found here.

ENA has recently consulted on improvements to the management of the connection queue and details of these are available by following these two links:

Fair and Effective Management of DNO Connection Queues: Progression Milestones

Fair and Effective Management of DNO Connection Queues: Treatment of Changes to Connection Applications

For further information please contact:

Tim Field
Head of Press and Public Affairs
Energy Networks Association 

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