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Realising the network of the future: DSO Implementation Plan launched

02 July 2020


Britain’s energy networks are planning and building a future power grid that leaves nobody behind, letting homes, businesses, and communities make the most of their electric vehicles, batteries and solar panels to power us forward to Net Zero.

Today, the realisation of our future smart grid took a big step forward with the launch of the DSO Implementation Plan; an interactive roadmap for network companies to reach Distribution System Operation (DSO).

Having worked with consultants and experts DNV GL, the DSO Implementation Plan is another important milestone that ENA’s Open Networks Project has achieved on the DSO Transition to date, and will:

  • lay down the path for a transparent, data-driven smart grid;
  • capture short, medium, and longer-term actions that need to be progressed, as well as identifying gaps to delivering DSO;
  • map out all the eight key DSO functions as defined by Open Networks in consultation with industry;
  • present the data in a clear and easy to use timeline that captures actions, timeframes, links to more information, and date of last update.

In order to fully realise the benefits of the growing number of local flexible resources, Britain’s energy networks need to be able to operate in a more adaptable and flexible way to manage local supply and demand. Managing the network at a local level through DSO can help to bring more low carbon flexibility services on to the network, reduce the need for reinforcement leading to lower bills, and avoid disruption by increasing performance in local networks.

The DSO Implementation plan launched today has been informed with extensive industry engagement, including two consultations, stakeholder forums and webinars, and presentations to the Advisory Group and external events. With supply and demand patterns shifting as we grapple with the new normal from the Coronavirus outbreak, building an energy system that leaves no one behind will help the energy networks to reach net zero as fast as possible.

The new industry wide implementation plan launched today showcases all the work to date and will be a key input into RIIO-2 business plans for DSO for DNOs. It is also important that the whole electricity system is considered in this implementation plan, reflecting the business plans already submitted to Ofgem for T2. The DSO Implementation Plan reflects all these key milestones and submissions in the networks’ regulatory planning.

The project also plans to update it Conflicts of Interest and Unintended Consequences tracker in August, a piece of work also part of the DSO Transition workstream of Open Networks. First published last year, the tracker is a risk log that analyses the Open Networks Project’s work programme and captures any potential conflicts of interest or unintended consequences which could arise and potentially compromise the energy system’s ability to operate at its best and most efficient. The next version will capture more of the risks associated with the transition to DSO and provide more detail on the actions required to mitigate the risks, as well as who is responsible for making these changes.

Commenting on the release David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association (ENA), said:

“As Britain’s energy use and generation becomes increasingly varied, it’s vitally important that our energy networks are able to respond to the challenges this new market presents. The DSO Implementation Plan launched today will help networks take advantage of the rapidly growing number of low carbon technologies being used right across the country.

“Flexibility has proven to be an extremely valuable resource in the first half of this year, with plummeting demand during the pandemic, allowing us to effectively and efficiently manage the changes in demand. The work of the DSO Implementation Plan provides a clear and transparent route to more local network management, ensuring that people can access the benefits of a smart grid as quickly as possible, taking us a big step closer to a net zero future.”

Global energy advisory company DNV GL partnered with ENA to develop the DSO Implementation Plan. Having worked for more than 100 large grid companies on transmission and distribution developments throughout the asset lifecycle, DNV GL’s team of experts has supported ENA using their practical and project-based experience.

Commenting further, Rafiek Versmissen, Director of Energy Markets & Technology at DNV GL, added:

“DNV GL is proud to have worked with the ENA and its members to develop the DSO Implementation Plan. The industry-wide deployment of DSO functionality is a crucial development in the energy transition and the road to Net Zero. Our electricity networks are at the heart of delivering DSO for the wider energy industry, both managing the challenges and enabling opportunities to the benefit of all customers. The DSO implementation plan provides essential visibility and confidence to all energy industry stakeholders to accelerate the evolution to a smart, flexible energy system.”

Press contacts for journalists

Daniel Clelland

Communications Manager, Open Networks

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.
  • DNV GL delivers advisory, certification and testing services to stakeholders in the energy value chain. Our expertise spans energy markets and regulations, onshore and offshore wind and solar power generation, power transmission and distribution grids, energy storage and sustainable energy use. Our experts support customers around the globe in delivering a safe, reliable, efficient, and sustainable energy supply. Learn more at
  • Beginning in 2017, Open Networks has worked to define what Distribution System Operation is and the functions and activities that are associated. Further work on the journey was undertaken last year with the Future Worlds Impact Assessment carried out by independent global consultants Baringa. The independent impact assessment looked at the various options needed to make DSO a reality in Great Britain and compared the strengths and weaknesses of the different ‘Future Worlds’ against over 30 criteria, including decarbonisation and cost to the consumer.
  • The new interactive DSO Implementation Plan is available to view here.
  • A YouTube video guide on the plan is available to view here.
  • The DSO Implementation Plan will be updated in Q1 2021, with further updates to the roadmap on a six monthly basis.
  • More information on the 2018 Future Worlds consultation can be found here, and more information on the 2019 Future Worlds Impact Assessment Report, including the report itself, can be found 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.

More information