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Key milestone agreed on the path to Net Zero

01 July 2019


The move to Net Zero has gathered momentum with strong agreement across the energy sector on the next steps to take to create a low carbon, smart grid in Great Britain, as Energy Networks Association (ENA) publishes the responses and its analysis to the Future Worlds Impact Assessment consultation.

As record and ever-increasing amounts of renewable energy are being fed into Britain’s energy system the sector has come together and agreed a shared vision outlined in ENA’s Future Worlds Impact Assessment report. This shows strong agreement to building closer coordination between Distribution System Operators (DSO) and the Electricity System Operator (ESO).

The move to a smarter grid will not only help cut emissions but also enable possible savings estimated by the National Infrastructure Commission of up to £8 billion a year by 2030.

The electricity distribution network companies are already making use of new technologies and access to more data to become DSOs. Closer coordination between DSOs and the ESO is a vital first step to deliver a smart grid at the best value for the public. This will build on and enhance the Flexibility Commitments recently made by the networks for delivering flexibility services.

With over 30 responses, 84% of non-network respondents agreed that DSO-ESO coordination of procurement and dispatch was the best place to start this vital transition, one that will enable and encourage more renewable energy into Britain’s energy system.

Respondents also agreed that price signals would also be a core part of any future electricity system developments. Ofgem has highlighted the importance of their Future Charging and Access programme in government’s and their letter on Open Networks.

The response to the Impact Assessment follows the release and consultation on the independent report earlier this year on the five potential scenarios to deliver Britain’s smart grid or ‘Internet of Energy’.

Emerging markets for flexibility services are key to delivering a smart grid at lowest cost and the recently released Flexibility Commitment: Our Six Steps for Delivering Flexibility Services marked a huge step forward in opening up these markets to all to connect services to the networks on a level playing field.

The evolution of the networks is already underway, with active networks seeking to build on the incredible success seen in recent months with record amounts of solar energy in Britain’s energy system, leading to longer periods without burning fossil fuels.

ENA’s Open Networks Project has already been driving the coordination and standardisation of Britain’s electricity networks, creating a closer working relationship between DSO and ESO. The responses to the Impact Assessment lend real momentum to the networks’ already ongoing efforts to continue improving our world class energy system, which has seen well over £100 billion of investment since privatisation. DSO-ESO coordination starts networks off from a similar energy landscape to today, will continue the investment and innovation in our networks and most importantly not exclude more reform in the future.

The energy network companies have already played a leading role in Britain’s’ transformation to a renewables superpower. The government’s Net Zero target is another opportunity for the networks to work with the whole energy industry, the regulator and the government to create the right regulatory conditions to bring about this transformation and help reach this ambitious goal. As the long-term roles and responsibilities are considered through the Open Networks project, they will help create a consistent market and customer experience that will drive forward progress to a dynamic, secure energy system.

Commenting, David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association, says:

“I am delighted with the interest we have had from so many organisations in the development of a smart network. I am also encouraged to see such strong agreement in the way we need to take this forward and deliver a low carbon, low cost network for the public. In consultation with partners, we are taking the right initial step forward, giving the industry a strong foundation to build on which is also adaptable to new lessons and thinking in future.

“The Open Networks Project is driving forward the changes to the networks that will bring about a dynamic smart grid, bringing wide reaching benefits for homes, businesses and communities. The proactive work of the networks in opening up emerging markets means the benefits of the future system are already being realised.”

Press contacts for journalists

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Notes to editor

  • Energy Networks Association represents the companies responsible for operating the ‘wires and pipes’ of Britain’s energy network infrastructure.
  • The Open Networks Project brings together electricity transmission and distribution network companies with industry stakeholders, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the energy regulator Ofgem, to lay the foundations for the smart grid in Great Britain and inform future developments Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  • Examples of flexibility services include:
    • Households charging their electric vehicles at off-peak times or when it is sunniest, whilst other households’ domestic solar panels are generating electricity.
    • Businesses striking demand-side response agreements to adjust their electricity use at the times of day when they least need it, helping reduce the need and cost of building new infrastructure.
    • Using battery storage to help network operators proactively manage a rapidly changing electricity grid where electricity now flows in many different directions, rather than in just one as it has done in the past.
  • ENA and its members recently launched a new commitment to support flexibility services. The full text of the Flexibility Commitment: Our Six Steps for Delivering Flexibility Services can be found here. The steps adopted will be fundamental in defining how the public, businesses and networks interact in the future by:
    • Championing a level playing field;
    • Ensuring visibility and accessibility;
    • Conducting procurement in an open and transparent manner;
    • Providing clarity on the dispatch of services;
    • Providing regular, consistent and transparent reporting;
    • Working together towards whole energy system outcomes.
    • The Open Networks Project is currently consulting on Flexibility Services, looking at creating a uniform customer journey for anyone wishing to connect flexibility services to the networks. The consultation closes on 23rd August.
    • More information on the consultation, including the consultation document, can be found here.
  • The BBC report on clean energy overtaking fossil fuels in Britain can be found here.
  • The Impact Assessment Consultation page can be found here.
  • As a world leader in clean energy, this commitment builds on the work of ENA’s Open Networks Project, where the long-term roles and responsibilities of Britain’s local electricity networks are being redefined as new competitive markets for flexibility open up. ENA and its member electricity organisations has worked extensively and inclusively with stakeholders, sharing our flexibility developments and listening to wide reaching feedback at every step to arrive at these commitments.

About Energy Networks Association

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.

ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.

Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.

What are energy network operators?

Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 40,000 people in Great Britain.

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