ENA welcomes focus on energy networks transformation in BEIS/Ofgem Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan

Energy Networks Association, which represents the companies that operate and maintain the gas and electricity grid network in the UK and Ireland, has today welcomed the Government’s focus on energy networks transformation as part of its Industrial Strategy plans.
The Government will today publish its Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan for the energy sector, which is “an important part of the Government's Industrial Strategy”. The Plan recognises ENA’s Open Network’s project as “a key initiative to drive progress” and “best placed” to build on a leverage the wealth of thinking around smart systems to date.
The Open Networks Project is a major cross-industry initiative that is re-defining how our energy networks will operate in the future. 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. 
Commenting on the publication David Smith, CEO of Energy Networks Association, says:
“As we head into the smart energy era, it’s vital that customers benefit from new technologies that allow them to take control of their energy and keep their costs down. Energy networks, through the Open Networks Project, are working hard to turn this vision into reality. Collaboration is key and our energy networks are ready, willing and able to build on their strong track record of customer engagement to deliver this vision.
“We’re pleased that today’s announcement recognises the role networks are playing in delivering the transition to a smart, flexible energy system and helping to keep the lights on and keep the cost of this transition to customers as affordable as possible.”
In the next six years alone consumers are expected to benefit from nearly £1bn of savings as result of innovation from electricity distribution networks. Bringing transmission and distribution network operators together, Open Networks will deliver the operational and functional changes necessary to ensure that local electricity network operators move from simply delivering electricity from centralised power plants, to being a smarter, more capable platform that enables new energy technologies, products and services to connect to the grid more quickly and more affordably than is currently the case. It will do so whilst defining the new relationship between transmission and distribution network operators.
David Smith adds:
“Our energy networks are building on the strength of their performance to rise to the challenges of a rapidly changing energy market and deliver the new technology that will create new opportunities for households, business and communities across the UK. 
“UK energy networks are respected the world over for their performance, value for money and approach to innovation – the transformation we are now seeing will ensure that we build on that position to ensure that our economy and our Industrial Strategy has a truly world-leading asset.”
Nigel Turvey, Chair of the Open Networks Project Steering Group and Network Strategy and Innovation Manager at Western Power Distribution, comments:
“At the heart of the Open Networks Project is the principle that the transition to DSOs will create a platform for a whole suite of products, technologies and services that will enable households and businesses greater control over their electricity use and promote greater competition in markets. Today’s announcement recognises that role and we look forward to working across industry to develop that idea further.
“The importance of stakeholder engagement cannot be underestimated, and the Open Networks Project ensures a wide range of stakeholders are consulted, ensuring a holistic whole energy system approach is taken. This is essential for the transition to a smart energy system in the most efficient and cost-effective way.”
Chris Clarke, Director of Asset Management at gas distribution network Wales & West Utilities, said: 
“A whole system approach is essential if we are going to deliver what energy customers want and need – an energy system and market that is secure, affordable and sustainable. This includes major initiatives like the ENA’s Open Networks Project, where through the sharing of best practice from the gas industry, electricity DNOs are becoming system operators – essential to a future decentralised and sustainable energy system. 
“And the gas industry is playing a key role too. With more than 80% of energy at peak times delivered by the gas network, it is essential to heat homes and power businesses effectively, while flexible gas-fired generation is powering the spread of electric vehicles, and supporting the growth of renewable energy, helping to keep the lights on.”
Martin Alderson, Asset Risk Management and Safety Director, Northern Gas Networks, said:
"With 80% of the UK's heat demand fuelled by gas, and gas-fired generation helping to keep the lights on, we must look at more integrated energy systems that can help to reduce the use of primary energy, cut costs and increase the reliability of our power networks, to achieve a truly smart energy system for the future.
"Our InTEGReL facility, the UK's first fully integrated energy systems development and demonstration site, launches in September.  It will provide the large scale facility needed to test disruptive energy solutions, approaches and methodologies in order to deliver more efficient, affordable and sustainable ways to generate, store and transport energy to provide confidence in their adoption in the UK."
Notes to Editors 
• 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.
• The Open Networks 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
Direct Email: [email protected]
T: +44 (0) 20 7706 5118
M: +44 (0) 7792 220 974