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Britain’s energy networks mark a range of firsts in the race to Net Zero

17 February 2022


Britain’s energy networks, in collaboration with Energy Networks Association (ENA), marked a range of market leading achievements across the past year through it's Open Networks programme.

The achievements, which focused on standardising and simplifying processes to make market participation easier, include:

  • Making a record-breaking amount – around 3GW – of flexibility available to the market for tendering
  • Implementing the national adoption of a tool which helps networks make decisions and value flexibility in consistent and transparent ways
  • Delivering a single contract for procuring flexibility services with common T&Cs across DNOs and the ESO – making it easier for providers to participate GB-wide
  • Publishing a 544-step DSO implementation plan, which offers complete transparency on all data to ultimately help people connect more quickly and efficiently
  • Receiving Ofgem recognition for a first of its kind Whole System Cost Benefit Analysis framework, which enables consideration of solutions across electricity and gas networks
  • Consulting with over 100 local authority representatives to ultimately help shape a ‘whole energy system’ service aimed at supporting relevant local development plans.

These achievements have been marked by ENA in its review of the progress of its world-leading Open Networks programme, which brings together all of Britain’s network companies and industry stakeholders to help transform the way our energy networks operate. ENA’s Open Networks ‘2021 in Review’, demonstrates how the networks are:

  • Developing local flexibility markets to support more cost-effective energy in the long term
  • Working better together, so customers have the best possible solution
  • Being more transparent with their work and data to ultimately help people connect to the networks more quickly and efficiently

Flexibility was the largest area of work for the programme in 2021, where efforts focused on opening markets for local flexibility and standardising and improving the experience for customers across network operators and with the ESO. Other important areas of work included improving both the visibility of data and connections process, increasing collaboration between electricity and gas networks and the transition to Distribution System Operation (DSO).

The report, now in its fifth year of publication, reflects on the achievements from the past 12 months and looks to the key priorities for the year ahead. It has been developed with an open and accountable approach in mind by highlighting the programme’s progress in connection to the 2021 Work Plan’s deliverables.

David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association, said:

“In the year that included pivotal moments such as COP26, the publication of UK Government’s Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan and the publication of RIIO ED2 Business plans, Britain’s electricity and gas network infrastructure continued to sit at the heart of decarbonisation.

“As the transition towards a Net Zero economy accelerates, the networks are building an energy system fit for a net zero future, which leaves nobody behind. Open Networks aims to continue to set out a clear delivery pathway, drawing on the expertise of network companies, Ofgem, UK Government and wider industry to progress the necessary steps.”

Looking to 2022 – which marks five years of Open Networks – it will be another important year as the programme ramps up efforts to enable Net Zero. Government’s Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan reiterates these challenges and has given Open Networks the mandate to build on its work to date and deliver a common framework for flexibility by 2023. More information on priorities for this year are available in the 2022 Work Plan.


ON21-PRJ-End of Year Review FINAL (17 Feb 2022)


Notes to editor

Find out more on the past year's achievements in the Open Networks 2021 in Review report.

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.

Press contacts

You can contact ENA's press office by emailing For urgent or out-of-hours enquiries from journalists, please call 0204 599 7691.