The first five years of collaboration across Britain’s energy networks and the wider energy sector – through Energy Networks Association’s (ENA) world-leading Open Networks programme – has delivered transformational change to a smarter, more flexible energy system in the UK.
To mark five years of developing the smart grid, today ENA has launched a new online hub which sets out the milestones achieved to date – and this is only the beginning of the revolution.
Since 2017, working alongside network companies, Ofgem, UK Government and others in the energy industry, ENA’s Open Networks programme has introduced real momentum in transforming the way our energy networks operate. This includes:
- Delivering more than 350 products including tools, reports, methodologies and frameworks, helping to bring further standardisation and transparency
- Supporting the substantial growth of flexibility made available to the market for tendering – from around 0.1GW to almost 3GW1 – the largest in Europe
- Receiving recognition in key publications such as UK Government’s Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan2 and RIIO-2 guidance for Re-opener applications3
- Mapping out pathways to Distribution System Operation (DSO) – from the definition phase to publishing an implementation plan with more than 540 steps last year
- Working with dozens of innovation projects to test proposals and take learnings on board – with examples available through the online hub’s case study section
- Launching 14 consultations across all work areas
- Working with more than 300 industry stakeholders to help inform and shape the programme.
In addition to the online hub, ENA will be marking the anniversary throughout the year with a range of activities including industry events, webinars, podcasts and digital activity.
Farina Farrier, Head of Open Networks at Energy Networks Association, said:
“A smarter, more flexible energy system is fundamental to reaching the government’s decarbonisation commitments. The last five years has seen the Open Networks programme bring stakeholders together to work collaboratively, create solutions and build a smart grid that will deliver a Net Zero future for all.
“As we pass the five-year anniversary, we will strive to build on existing successes and go even faster forward to create Net Zero networks, boosting new flexibility markets, and securing the supply of clean, low-carbon energy.”
Moving forward, the programme will continue to focus on delivering at pace, including:
- Further developing UK local flexibility markets and delivering a common framework for flexibility by March 2023 to support more cost-effective energy in the long term
- Standardising and simplifying processes to make market participation more accessible to a wider number of individuals and organisations
- Working better together between the gas and electricity networks, and across the energy sector, so customers have the best possible solution
- Being more transparent and sharing data to ultimately help people connect to the networks more quickly and efficiently.
More information on priorities for this year are available in the Open Networks 2022 Work Plan.
Notes to editors
1 Flexibility services are a relatively new market but one that has seen explosive growth over the past few years. Starting with 116MW of flexibility being contracted in 2018, this has increased to 2.9GW contracted in 2021. More information is available via our latest flexibility figures (published July 2021).
2 A joint publication from the UK Government and Ofgem, the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan 2021, published in 2021, recognised the deliverables and achievements of Open Networks – with the programme receiving 13 mentions throughout the plan.
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.