UK cleantech companies set to play key advisory role in major energy networks initiative

Some of the UK’s leading ‘cleantech’ companies are to play a key role in a major energy networks transformation project, as the Energy Networks Association Open Networks Project’s Advisory Group meets in London today. 
 
The Open Networks Project is re-defining how our energy networks will operate in the future as we head into a new smart era. The changes it will make will give the UK’s households, businesses and communities the ability to take advantage of a new range of energy technologies and services to take control of their energy and lower their costs, including renewable generation, battery storage and electric vehicles.
 
The Project’s July Advisory Group will welcome techUK for the first time, ensuring that the voice of some of the UK’s leading energy technology companies will play an important role in shaping the role energy networks will play in the future. TechUK represents more than 950 technology companies, ranging from leading FTSE 100 companies to new innovative start-ups.
 
Matthew Evans, Head of techUK’s IoT and smart infrastructure programmes comments:
 
“We are delighted to be joining the Advisory Group. Our members are delivering the technology that will be a key enabler for the transition to smarter grids and the evolution of traditional network operators to more active distribution system operators. Understanding how changes to our networks impact the ability of new technologies and services to integrate is crucial, as we witness a rapid shift towards distributed energy and smarter consumer markets.”
 
The Open Networks Advisory Group meets every two months includes representatives from the energy trade associations, including EnergyUK, RenewableUK, Renewable Energy Association and the Association for Decentralised Energy, as well as representatives from Imperial College, Citizen’s Advice, community energy projects and independent Distribution Network Operators.
 
Matthew Evans adds:
 
“Not having the right systems in place can act as a barrier, leaving networks unable to keep pace with the speed of change elsewhere in the industry. We look forward to playing an active role in ensuring that this isn’t the case and helping to deliver the smart, more flexible system that we need.”
 
Open Networks Project Manager and ENA Head of Innovation Randolph Brazier says:
 
“Formally establishing an Advisory Group and ensuring that it feeds back and informs each of the Open Networks workstreams has been a key priority for this project. By engaging with a wide range of stakeholders, the Project ensures a holistic, whole energy system approach is taken when tackling issues. We’re delighted to have TechUK on-board and look forward to the valuable contribution they will make to lay the foundations of the smart grid in the UK.”
 
The July Advisory Group meeting will look at a number of important proposals that have been produced by the Project’s four workstreams. These include:
 
’Statement of Works’ proposals that will provide generators, storage operators and other companies greater visibility on network costs and make it easier and quicker to connect to the network by avoiding the need for costly reinforcements. This builds on the recent launch by ENA members UK Power Networks and National Grid of a new active network management scheme to boost grid capacity in the South East of England and simplify the connections process for generators.
 
Mapping current and future customers’ involvement in the networks to understand and to improve their experience of that involvement. The Advisory Group will discuss how customers connect to the network and the key issues which can arise in the process. These maps, or ‘guides’, will provide customers with all the information they need about the process of getting connected to the network.
 
What the functional requirements will be for electricity networks to operate and manage a smart grid locally, including what technologies and services they will need to do so. One example of this is the Scottish & Southern Electricity Network NINES Project, which has recently created a technically functional smart grid in the Shetland Isles and is using the role of renewables, storage and demand management to reduce the cost of generation and maintain a reliable supply.
 
Other topics discussed included Investment Planning Gaps and charging recommendations. 
 
The Advisory Group meetings consist of interactive workshops and act as a means by which the Open Networks Project can receive guidance and input to the direction it is taking, as well as for specific products. The feedback from these sessions will be incorporated into the final products, which will be published on ENA’s website.
 
 
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Notes to editors
 
techUK represents the companies and technologies that are defining today the world that we will live in tomorrow. More than 950 companies are members of techUK. Collectively they employ approximately 700,000 people, about half of all tech sector jobs in the UK. These companies range from leading FTSE 100 companies to new innovative start-ups. The majority of our members are small and medium-sized businesses.
 
The Open Networks Project, led by Energy Networks Association, is a major initiative that is in the process of re-defining how our energy networks will operate in the future as we head into a new smart era.
The Project brings together the leading minds in the UK energy industry, including all of the UK’s electricity network operators, including National Grid, respected academics, NGOs, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the energy regulator Ofgem. The project is led and facilitated by Energy Networks Association.
 
Innovation by our energy networks has already enabled close to £1bn of cost savings that will be delivered between now and 2023, clearly demonstrating the economic potential of smarter networks.
 
Energy Networks Association is the voice of the UK’s energy networks, representing the UK’s 15 electricity and gas transmission and distribution network operators.
 
ENA members serve over 30 million customers in all corners of the UK, whilst managing £62bn of assets that employ 30,000 people in communities across the country. 
By 2020 the UK’s energy networks will have delivered £80bn of investment since 1990, whilst reducing costs to the customer by 17%. In the next six years alone they are forecast by Ofgem to deliver £45bn of investment across the UK.
 
For further information contact:
Matthew Pringle
UK & European Communications Manager
Energy Networks Association
[email protected]
T: +44 (0) 20 7706 5118
M: +44 (0) 7792 220 974
 
Alice Jackson
Associate Director - Communications
techUK, 
[email protected] 
T: +44 (0) 20 7331 2163
M: +44 (0) 7974 266178