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A ‘flexibility first’ approach: Unlocking capacity, opening markets & powering towards Net Zero

24 August 2021

Dr Avinash Aithal, Open Networks Technical Lead at Energy Networks Association, provides the latest updates on flexibility including a newly published explainer and Q&A on Flexible Connections.


I’ve been part of the Open Networks team at Energy Networks Association (ENA) since April and have been impressed with what the team have achieved alongside Britain’s electricity distribution networks so far this year.

Avinash Aithal (2)

In addition to taking further steps in improving transparency, removing barriers and simplifying participation, we recently revealed record levels of local flexibility have been contracted – with an impressive 1.6GW contracted since the beginning of 2021 to date. This is an uplift of 45% since 2020, when 1.1GW was contracted for the whole year.

This announcement comes at a time when flexibility is at the forefront of industry’s mind. Not only is it a key aspect of delivering a green recovery as it enables us to meet Britain’s targets for the widescale roll out of electric vehicles (EVs) and heat-pumps, but new figures from Government's Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan – which ENA welcomed – show that flexibility could also reduce annual energy system costs by £10bn a year by 2050 while also creating 24,000 ‘green collar’ jobs.

However, there is still plenty of room for growth and we are not resting on our laurels. Networks, Ofgem and Government are working together to increase the amount of flexibility in the energy system of the future and Open Networks is welcoming responses to a wide-reaching consultation on flexibility from the energy industry and beyond on how the project can further drive standardisation in local energy markets right across the country. The consultation is open until 24 September 2021, and industry viewpoints are vital in bringing the energy system closer to the people it serves.

We have a number of ways that we are working with industry and wider stakeholders during the consultation period to encourage engagement, including hosting online events such as a webinars and panel sessions and developing supportive documents to aid in shaping a response.

This includes a new paper which explains Flexible Connections and provides information including:

  • What are the different types of Flexible Connections?
  • What are the factors that influence Curtailment?
  • What is the difference between Flexible Connection and Flexible service?
  • Can Flexible Connections contracts be moved to a Standard Connection?

Intended for customers who have flexible connections, are considering flexible connections or have a general awareness of Active Network Management (ANM) but would like to understand more; the paper’s aim is to assist stakeholders in further understanding these areas as they are a key part of our consultation and also Ofgem’s Access and Forward-looking Charges Significant Code Review - Consultation on Minded to Positions.

As always, this content is available to everyone and feel free to contact the project team on should you have any questions/thoughts at all.

Notes to editor

The ‘Flexibility Connections: Explainer and Q&A’ document is available on ENA’s website, as is more information on the Open Networks Flexibility consultation.

This article first featured on Current News.

About us

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the energy networks. Our members include every major electricity network operator in the UK. The electricity networks are at the heart of the energy transition. They directly employ more than 26,000 people in the UK, including 1,500 apprentices. They are spending and investing £33bn in our electricity grids over the coming years, to ensure safe, reliable and secure energy supplies for the millions of homes and businesses reliant on power every day.

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