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Network companies seek feedback on future flexible market

03 August 2020


ENA's Open Networks Project launches a wide reaching consultation on flexibility, seeking to further drive standardisation in local energy markets right across the country.

The way Britain is generating and using energy is changing rapidly and as the first half of 2020 has shown, the energy system needs to be as flexible as possible to meet these new challenges. ENA’s Open Networks Project is laying the foundation for a smart, flexible future and today they have published a consultation, welcoming views from across the whole industry, including the businesses and community enterprises which will be making up this future market.

With over 50% of our electricity coming from low carbon sources a net zero system is within reach, and Open Networks is leading and driving the changes needed for a standardised and easy to access future framework. A framework which will make the market flexible enough to support not only even higher volumes of renewable power but also the electrification of transport and heating.

Britons all over the country are already realising the benefits of the grid of the future. Early adopters are using smart chargers to find the cheapest times to charge their electric vehicles and domestic batteries to store energy that’s generated when demand and prices are low. Meanwhile demand side response (DSR) schemes are increasingly popular as they reward customers for shifting their energy use to reduce peak demand. The Open Networks flexibility consultation launched today will help turbo-charge these endeavours, driving Britain’s efforts to integrate more sustainable energy into our energy system and bringing us closer to net zero.

The consultation is wide reaching, and the project team are welcoming responses from the energy industry and beyond on how the Open Networks Project can further drive standardisation in local energy markets right across the country. Industry viewpoints are vital and bring the energy system closer to the people it serves by identifying barriers to entry, which when overcome will enable new parties to get involved in the market of the future. These parties will include hospitals with on-site generation, stores with refrigeration banks and sites with electric vehicle charge-points, creating new revenue streams for these organisations as well as those already participating in national markets, all while decarbonising the economy and reducing the cost to the consumer. 

The flexibility consultation comes off the back of a successful release of the Distribution System Operation (DSO) implementation Plan which details the steps needed to take us to a more efficient locally managed grid. As network companies prepare for DSO, flexibility services will form the bedrock of the new smart grid by making the networks more responsive to shifting energy patterns. The responses to this consultation and Open Networks’ continuing progress on flexibility will underpin the DSO Implementation Plan.

Last year, Open Networks made a commitment to get community energy groups more involved, and this year one of the Project’s new Community Energy Forums will be held during the consultation period to hear back from flexibility providers on what they need from the networks to take the UK another step closer to net zero. 

Randolph Brazier, Head of Innovation at Energy Networks Association which represents the UK and Ireland’s UK and Ireland’s energy networks businesses, said:

“Our latest milestone in the three and a half year-long Open Networks Project, this consultation will give flexibility providers with the opportunity to feedback to the networks on the framework we’re building for them.

“The standards we’re creating are world-leading; they allow for flexibility providers of all types to more easily offer their services consistently across the country. In doing so they create a competitive marketplace, driving down prices all whilst directly enabling more renewable power to be built-out”.

Stephen McMahon, Deputy Director for Electricity Distribution & Cross Sector Policy at Ofgem added:

 “Embedding flexibility into our energy system is critical to achieving decarbonising of our energy system at least cost to consumers. Work to standardise, coordinate and otherwise reduce barriers to entry into flexibility markets must remain a high priority for network companies and the ESO. It is vital that the Open Networks project is shaped by strong stakeholder input, to help develop robust outputs and prioritise the remaining work.”

The consultation is running for eight weeks concluding on 25th September, and a formal Open Networks Project response to the feedback will be published later this year.

Press contacts for journalists

Daniel Clelland

Communications Manager

Energy Networks Association

020 7706 5186

+44 (0) 7885 998360

ENA Press Office


Notes to editor

  • Energy Networks Association’s 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 in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  • The consultation document has been published on our website, and more information including detailed product information is available on our public consultations page.
  • To complement the consultation, the Project is holding two webinars:
  • The new interactive DSO Implementation Plan is available to view here.
  • The latest round of collated flexibility procurement figures is available on our Flexibility in GB page
  • 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.
  • The Open Networks 2019 End of Year review is available here, and the 2020 Project Initiation Document can be downloaded here.

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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