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Open Networks focus on promoting market opportunities and confidence

22 January 2020

ENA’s Open Networks project is set to focus on promoting market opportunities and boosting market confidence in 2020


With the launch of two major publications: the 2020 Work Plan and consultation, and 2019 End of Year Review, the Open Networks Project is helping to make Britain a superpower of renewable energy, implementing standardised processes and practices that will power Britain forward to Net Zero. By focussing this year on open data, local markets for flexibility, and working with community groups, Open Networks is ready to take the transition to the smart grid to the next level.

The 2020 Work Plan consultation launched today is a key opportunity for stakeholders from across the industry – from renewables projects to aggregators and community energy groups – to consider the full scope and direction of the project this year, and provide feedback on priorities and timelines. The consultation will run for 8 weeks and close on 17th March 2020.

The 2020 Work Plan and consultation comes off the back of a successful 2019, where the Project concluded 95% of the products scoped at the beginning of the year. A new flexibility commitment, improvements to distribution connections for customers, and increasing the provision and transparency of data through a System Wide Resource Register all helped to build strong momentum for the project to capitalise on in 2020.

In 2020 the Project will focus on delivering standardisation and alignment across all Workstreams, ensuring that all industry stakeholders will start to increasingly feel the benefits from Open Networks outputs. Driving standardisation will make participating in new local markets as easy as possible, provide clean and secure energy, and boost market confidence. Priorities for Open Networks this year include:

  • Advancing local markets for flexibility, vital for the transition to Net Zero, with standard approaches across DNOs for the:
    1. Future Energy Scenarios, forecasting and identification of system needs; and
    2. Procurement and contracting of flexibility services, and alignment with ESO markets where possible
    3. Building on the work of the Energy Data Task Force (EDTF) to enhance transparency by enabling greater data visibility and better, consistent access to non-confidential data across transmission and distribution
    4. Growing the reach of the project with a series of new Community Energy Forums

Another key focus this year will be to tackle the DSO transition head on with the publication of a DSO Implementation Plan, due to be released in summer 2020. With the successful conclusion of the Future Worlds work in 2019 ending with the industry agreeing a shared vision to Distribution System Operation (DSO). This year the networks will set out a clear implementation path, highlighting all the actions and decisions required to implement the vital transition to the smart grid between now and 2050.

Open Networks will also build upon its industry-leading work on whole energy systems, seeking to deliver further efficiencies across both gas and electricity. This year the Project will undertake development of a whole system cost benefit analysis methodology. This will seek to deliver whole energy systems solutions by considering how both gas and electricity can deliver benefits to customers, including societal benefits. ENA and Open Networks have become a natural home for energy network collaboration, vital to securing the clean energy we rely on well into the future.

Commenting on the announcement, David Smith, Chief Executive of ENA, said:

“Open Networks is playing a pivotal role in helping to support the move towards a low carbon future. We need to build on existing successes and drive forward change that will improve transparency, boost new flexibility markets, and support community energy projects. 

“The Open Networks Project looks forward to working with the whole industry, from BEIS and Ofgem to community groups all over the country, to deliver this major change, grow local flexibility markets for clean energy, tackle the DSO transition head on, and build a Net Zero energy system that works for everyone."

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 in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  • The 2020 Work Plan consultation will run from 21 January to 17 March 2020. More information, including the consultation document, can be found here. Completed responses should be sent to
  • The 2019 End of Year review is available here, and the 2020 Project Initiation Document can be downloaded here.
  • 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 recently released their response to the BEIS and Ofgem open letter on Open Networks and its priorities for 2020. The full response can be found here.
    • In 2019 ENA and its members 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
    • 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 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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