Electricity networks pave the way for smarter energy system ahead of UK’s largest smart grid conference

Release: Immediate

Date: 27th November 2017

The UK’s electricity networks will be paving the way for the development of our smart energy infrastructure this week, as they hold a series of public workshops around the country.

The way people produce and consume electricity is rapidly changing, with generation becoming more distributed and technologies deployed closer to the end consumer. As a result the responsibilities of local electricity networks are changing as new types of smart and renewable energy technology are connected at a local level, such as solar and wind farms, battery storage and electric vehicles.

The workshops come a week before the UK’s largest UK’s largest electricity and gas smart grid conference, the Low Carbon Networks Innovation (LCNI) Conference, takes place in Telford.

Local electricity network operators Electricity North West Ltd, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks and Northern Powergrid will hold public workshops in Manchester, Oxford, Perth and London this week to consult on their plans to become ‘Distribution System Operators’. The workshops follow similar events held by SP Energy Networks, UK Power Networks and Western Power Distribution earlier this year.

The public workshops are the opportunity for stakeholders to help shape how those roles and responsibilities evolve, as local electricity networks move from their traditional role of simply distributing electricity to playing a far more active role in balancing supply and demand. To fulfil this role they will have to work with a range of different stakeholders.

The events will be attended by a range of individuals and organisations, including customers, generators, and technology and service providers and will include series of panel discussions, project presentations and working sessions to gather feedback.

David Smith, CEO of Energy Networks Association, comments:

“There is a huge opportunity for a wide range of stakeholders to play role in helping shape the way our networks continue to rise to the challenges of decarbonisation.

“Distribution System Operators will lie at the heart of a more decentralised, smarter energy system and these events are a vital opportunity for customers and other stakeholders to have their say on how they would like to see the transition develop.”

The LCNI Conference in Telford will showcase pioneering projects that demonstrate how networks are already adapting to this change.

Hosted by Energy Networks Association (ENA), it brings together all of the UK’s gas and electricity network companies with Government, regulators and key industry spokespeople to provide attendees with a unique opportunity to discuss electricity and gas smart grid innovation with stakeholders from all parts of the country and the energy sector.

Contributors this year include senior representatives of BEIS, Ofgem, Energy Systems Catapult, Imperial College, Newcastle University and Strathclyde University. The event will use an innovative, interactive presentation that will facilitate live polling of the audience in real time.

Over 50 exhibitors, alongside network companies, are expected to present innovation projects that have been awarded funding under the Low Carbon Networks Fund, Network Innovation Allowance and Network Innovation Competition funding mechanisms.

David Smith continues:

“The LCNI Conference plays an important role in bringing together some of the UK’s leading stakeholders in energy innovation. Active in communities and regions across the UK, our network operators are already recognised as some of the most innovative in the world and are responsible for ensuring that all of our households, businesses and communities benefit from ongoing innovation. This event is a must-attend conference for anyone with an interest in the future of energy.”

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 Notes to Editors

  • The change to DSO means that local operators will be able to provide quicker and cheaper network connections for generators, reduce the need to build back-up sources of generation for renewables, integrate battery storage into the grid and enable more effective planning for electric vehicles.
  • You can find information on the DSO Workshops as follows:
    • ENWL (Manchester) here
    • SSEN (Oxford & Perth) here
    • Northern Powergrid (London & York) here.
  • The Low Carbon Network Innovation (LCNI) Conference will be held from the 5th – 7th December 2017 and attendance is open to anyone.
  • The LCNI Conference website can be found here. Tickets are available to purchase online here and a full conference programme can be found here.
  • Examples of projects by energy network companies that will be presented at LCNI include:
    • Northern Gas Network’s H21 Leeds Citygate Project, which is exploring converting the existing natural gas network in Leeds, one of the largest UK cities, to 100% hydrogen.
    • Cadent’s HyDeploy project at Keele University which aims to inject hydrogen into the existing natural gas network.
    • Wales & West Utilities’ and Western Power Distribution’s FREEDOM Project which aims to investigate the feasibility of the use of heat pumps as part of a hybrid heating system
    • SGN’s Real-Time Networks project which aims to demonstrate a flexible and intelligent gas network by establishing Great Britain’s customer gas demand by recording how much gas is needed and when
    • Electricity North-West’s CLASS project, which has successfully demonstrated that demand for electricity can be reduced without customers noticing a difference to their supply.
    • Northern Powergrid & Northern Gas Network’s InTEGRal project, which researches how gas and electricity networks can work together to deliver breakthroughs in the decarbonisation of heat, energy storage and transport.
    • Scottish & South Energy Networks NINES project, which has created a self-sufficient smart grid in the remote Shetland Isles.
    • SP Energy Networks’ FITNESS project, which looks at new ways to lower the costs of building electricity substation costs whilst helping reduce constraint payments to generators
    • Western Power Distribution’s Electric Nation project, which develops methods to identify which parts of the network are likely to be affected by electric vehicle and vehicle to grid (V2G) uptake
    • UK Power Networks Kent Active System Management project, which aims to increase the export of renewable energy onto the network by developing sophisticated modelling and forecasting tools to release capacity
  • The Electricity Network Innovation Strategy has been published here and the deadline for response to the consultation on the Electricity Network Innovation Strategy is Friday 15th December 2017.
  • The Gas Network Innovation Strategy consultation can be found here and the deadline for response to the consultation on the Electricity Network Innovation Strategy is Friday 22nd December 2017.
  • Independent research commissioned by Pöyry conducted in October 2016 for Ofgem estimated that future net benefits resulting from innovation projects carried out with funding from the Low Carbon Network Fund were between £1.1bn to £1.7bn (p.78). The report can be found online here.
  • For press inquiries please contact:

Ed Gill

UK & European Head of Press and Public Affairs

Energy Networks Association

E: [email protected]

T: +44 (0) 20 7706 5157   M: +44 (0) 7725 372 758