Dr.Avi Aithal, Technical Lead for ENA’s world-leading Open Networks, provides an overview on how the industry can get involved with the programme's work this year.
The last five years has seen our Open Networks programme bring the industry together to work collaboratively and create solutions to build a smart grid that will deliver a Net Zero future for all.
We’ve worked with key stakeholders to build real momentum in the transition to a smart, flexible, Net Zero energy system. As someone who has closely followed the programme in my previous role before joining as Technical Lead last year, it’s fantastic to see what's been achieved. But we also know we must continue to build on our success and drive the programme forwards to deliver the much talked about Net Zero networks.
Stakeholder input is vital to the success of the programme and will play an even bigger role this year than ever before. From improving visibility of distributed resources on the networks and making network data more accessible to the public to delivering the best possible solutions to suit customers’ needs, we are putting our stakeholders at the heart of our plans.
We’ve created a new Challenge Group, independently chaired by energy industry expert, Maxine Frerk, so non-network representatives can have their say on our plans. This group will help strengthen our programme direction, provide independent oversight and enable us to work more closely with industry to shape its outcomes.
We’re proud of the representation that we have in the Challenge Group, which commenced on 24 February and will run bi-monthly. The group was formed via an open call for participation and more than 20 industry experts are members, including flexibility providers, local community representatives, academics and consumer support groups. In line with the programme’s open approach, we will review membership on a regular basis and will publish notes from each meeting, with February’s notes available soon on ENA’s website, aswell as a log which tracks the status of any actions raised.
We are also delighted to have Maxine on board, who, in addition, is joining our monthly Steering Group meetings to represent the views of the Challenge Group, keep abreast of our latest work and to ensure a holistic approach in understanding our priorities and outputs.
Since ENA established the programme five years ago, stakeholder engagement has been at its heart and has been invaluable in shaping the direction of its outcomes and we are doing more now than ever before to hear the views of others. To further help guide its work, our second new engagement group - a quarterly Dissemination Forum – begins on 24 March from 10am-1pm. Anyone with an interest in learning more about the programme’s priorities, progress and about our proposals when we develop them is encouraged to join by signing up.
Having two groups will support better participation and collaboration as well as allowing stakeholders to choose their level of involvement with the programme.
For those who can’t make the quarterly commitment, or who have interests in a specific area, we have recently published a 2022 activity overview which provides details on our upcoming events, forums, meetings and webinars. This document will be updated regularly throughout the year and can act as the first port of call for anyone looking to engage with us.
If you have anything you’d like to raise or discuss, feel free to get in touch with us or stay up to date by signing up to our newsletter.
Notes to editors
This article first appeared on Future Net Zero.
About Energy Networks Association
Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the companies which operate 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 Grid 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 45,000 people in the UK and Ireland. They are represented by their industry body, Energy Networks Association (that's us).
Energy supplier or network operator? Energy network operators are entirely separate to your energy supplier, which is the company that bills you for using electricity and gas. Energy suppliers and generators are represented by Energy UK.