UK's energy networks takes an important first step in developing electricity innovation strategy with launch of first consultation

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is launching the first consultation on its ‘Electricity Network Innovation Strategy’, marking the start of a wider engagement programme aimed at getting the maximum input from stakeholders in shaping the future of network innovation.

For Immediate Release: 25/09/2017

The energy system is rapidly changing with the increase in renewable generation and deployment of new technologies such as electric vehicles, battery storage and flexibility services, and energy network companies will need to evolve in order to deliver the major changes that will result from this transition to a low carbon economy.

Innovation in the network sector will facilitate the transition to a low carbon energy system and in August 2017 ENA announced plans for two joint network innovation strategies – a Gas Network Innovation Strategy and an Electricity Network Innovation Strategy. Each strategy will set out how network companies provide value for money from innovation projects they are undertaking, how they will share the lessons learnt from those projects with other organisations and how they plan to integrate those lessons into their day to day operations

Customers are at the centre of the energy networks’ role in delivering the future energy system, and input from the widest range of stakeholders is crucial to developing successful joint innovation strategies. In order to identify and successfully address all of the challenges and uncertainty, it is essential the wider viewpoint of the industry is registered, ensuring the Strategy is better informed with stakeholder input.
The consultation launched today will influence the Electricity Networks Innovation Strategy and seeks views on the challenges facing the networks, as identified by companies. It is a first step in a series of events that will invite stakeholders to contribute their thoughts and ideas to the innovation strategy as it develops.

In recent years the UK has established itself as a world leader in smart grid technology through the innovation projects led by network companies. Through the joint innovation strategies and initiatives like the Open Network Project, network companies are looking to find new ways to harness the potential of energy technologies to enable new markets and provide opportunities for consumers to have greater control of their energy bills and reduce their costs.

The ENA Open Networks Project in particular is a key forum for addressing the detailed challenges around evolving roles in the electricity networks and responsibilities in the short, medium and long term, as identified in the Ofgem/BEIS Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan. It will progress the transition of DNOs to DSOs, provide clarity and improve the interface between the transmission and distribution networks as these roles change, improve the customer’s experience of their interaction with the networks and finally consider the charging requirements of enduring electricity transmission and distribution systems.

David Smith, CEO at ENA comments:

‘Network companies are already using innovation projects to drive forward network performance, deliver better value for money and find new ways to harness the potential of energy technologies.

Continued support for innovation across the electricity and gas networks is vital to building on the success already seen in encouraging network companies to bring forward innovative projects and embed a culture of innovation within their organisations. This has already led to significant advances in the application of new technologies and techniques and delivered significant benefits for current and future consumers.’

Geoff Murphy, Lead Engineer in the Commercial and Innovation Team at Scottish Power Energy Networks, comments:

‘As we move to a low carbon economy, we are seeing a massive change in the energy system with the increase in low carbon distributed generation, electric vehicles, storage and flexibility services such as demand side response.
Along with opportunities, these changes also present challenges and innovation will play a fundamental role in addressing them. A customer-centric approach to tackling these challenges must be at the heart of the Innovation Strategy in order for it to be successful, which is why stakeholder engagement and feedback must be encouraged. It is important the widest possible range of stakeholders are engaged and have the opportunity to take part in this process’.

Notes to Editors
• Full details of the Electricity Network Innovation Strategy consultation are available here. • The deadline for responses to the online questionnaire is 17:00 on 6 October 2017. • Feedback will feed into the draft Electricity Network Innovation Strategy document.
• A second industry stakeholder consultation will be held in mid-November 2017, which will look at how to solve the challenges and gaps identified using innovation projects.
• The Electricity Network Innovation Strategy will also be presented alongside the Gas Innovation Strategy at ENA’s Low Carbon Networks conference in Telford and ENA is also holding two free stakeholders’ workshops in Glasgow and London on 21 and 23 November respectively. • Responses can also be submitted via email to [email protected] by 17:00 on 6 October 2017.