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Simplicity is key to unlocking the power of flexibility, says Open Networks Project

02 July 2019


Simplicity needs be at the heart of Britain’s fast emerging flexibility service markets for the country to unlock the power of new smart energy technologies, Energy Networks Association has said today.

The call comes as the Project launches its latest consultation on flexibility services, which will look at how energy network operators across the country can help Britain’s homes, businesses and communities realise the benefits of a smarter, more flexible energy system. That system could help the UK save up to £8bn a year by 2030, National Infrastructure Commission research shows - all whilst helping power it towards its 2050 Net Zero carbon emissions target.

Flexibility service markets, which use smart energy technologies in homes, businesses and communities to provide services back to electricity grid operators, are increasingly being used as a way of increasing the capacity of energy network infrastructure. These markets allow operators to connect more clean energy infrastructure, such as renewable energy projects or electric vehicle charge points, to the grid more quickly.

The consultation follows ENA recently launching the Flexibility Commitment: Our Six Steps for Delivering Flexibility Services. It seeks views on further detail on how the six steps in the Flexibility Commitment can be developed further, diving into the detail of the principles that will enable flexibility markets, good practice for procurement and our approach to standardising contracts for flexibility.

The principles include:

  • Neutral market facilitation
  • Market boundaries
  • Transparency, visibility and privacy
  • Rights and obligations
  • Interoperability of solutions and
  • Coordination and information exchange

David Smith, Chief Executive at Energy Networks Association says:

“Today’s consultation makes a fundamental point about the way in which we need to build a smarter, more flexible energy system – simpler is better. Ease of access to flexibility markets for the widest possible range of people has to be right at the top of the agenda.

“That’s key so that Britain’s energy networks can access the deepest, most liquid flexibility markets possible to help connect more clean energy technologies to the grid at the lowest possible cost to the public, all whilst creating an environment that fosters the kind of smart energy innovation that Britain has become known for the world over.”

The consultation will also focus on end-to-end processes when procuring flexibility services, as well as DSO Services Commercial Arrangements. These processes will look across all DNOs and all licence areas to find the simplest way for customers to contract for flexibility. This work will continue into 2020, but networks are always looking to break down barriers to accessing markets, and are implementing short term changes, as well as thinking long term about the roles and responsibilities of Britain’s Distribution Network Operators.

These products, combined with the recently released Six Steps for Delivering Flexibility Services commitment, will offer a clear and uniform customer journey that is open and transparent, building an Internet of Energy that involves everyone.

Press contacts for journalists

ENA Press Office



Our six steps for delivering flexibility services (2019)


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.
    • The consultation document can be found online 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 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 is attached. 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.
    • The National Infrastructure Commission’s report on Smart Power can be found online 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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