New smart technologies are challenging the traditional way we generate, consume and manage electricity, and the energy networks are making sure that these changes benefit everyone.
We’re helping transition to a smart, flexible system that connects large-scale energy generation right down to the solar panels and electric vehicles installed in homes, businesses and communities right across the country. This is often referred to as the smart grid.
The Open Networks programme has brought together the nine electricity grid operators in the UK and Ireland to work together to standardise customer experiences and align processes to make connecting to the networks as easy as possible and bring record amounts of renewable distributed energy resources, like wind and solar panels, to the local electricity grid.
We’re also working with the UK Government (through the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero), the energy regulator Ofgem, respected academics, industry experts and trade associations.
We test key developments with experts, as well as seeking broader views through consultations, stakeholder forums, webinars and guest presentations.
The UK has a dynamic energy environment ranging from solar farms in sunny Cornwall to the offshore wind farms in Kent and the Moray Firth, and all the local generation projects in-between. As homes and businesses adopt these smarter technologies and connect them to the local distribution networks, how these resources are integrated and support the networks will define the future smart grid and ensure the overall grid is equipped to deliver the energy we rely on well into the future.
As demand patterns shift as a result of new technologies such as electric vehicles and heat pumps, and more local renewable power is connected, network operators will play a more active role in managing and operating their networks, allowing them to address periods of high and low demand and power outages more efficiently, including paying customers to help support the networks with their flexible solutions.
Areas of focus
Open Networks has a strong focus on Distributed System Operation (DSO) and flexibility markets.
In 2023, Open Networks will focus on increasing participation and volume in the local flexibility market in line with actions from BEIS’ and Ofgem’s Smart Systems and Flexibility plan (2021). Open Networks aims to allow flexibility providers to easily engage with the market while having transparency of network planning and decision-making and make energy networks more coordinated and aligned.
The pace of change Open Networks is delivering is unprecedented in the industry, and to make sure the transformation of the networks becomes a reality, we have created three new workstreams under Open Networks to progress the delivery of the smart grid.
The programme's 2023 work areas are below and you will be able to find resources specific to each focus area on the relevant page:
Open Networks will also continue to monitor established areas of work and publish annual updates on programme-wide activities like annual GB flexibility figures, the Strategic Roadmap for Flexibility, and the DSO transition Conflict of Interest and Unintended Consequences Register.
We want to bring the programme to the industry, making sure to get as much input as possible to build an all-inclusive energy system.
To help guide the work of the programme, a Insights Forum is run quarterly as an online event for anyone to join. It gives stakeholders the opportunity to engage broadly with Open Networks, stay up to date with the latest developments and to provide input into it.
We welcome all interested parties to join this forum, and you can sign up via our online form.
The Forum works alongside another stakeholder group titled a 'Challenge Group' which has representation from experts across industry and runs bi-monthly. Please see the full list of members of the Challenge Group.
If you would like to raise anything at one of our meetings or provide feedback on the agenda items we're discussing, do get in touch with one of the Open Networks team.
We host a series of public events, webinars, panel events and roundtables throughout the year to complement our consultations or specific items of work, all of which help steer the development of Open Networks work areas. These are listed on our Events page.
The whole system challenges that we are looking to solve requires the right expertise. As the natural home for network collaboration, Open Networks draws on the expertise of each network company to lead this development work and has a significant number of representatives from each company developing and progressing all the necessary steps to build a grid that leaves nobody behind.
The programme is overseen by the Steering Group, as well as drawing on expertise from Ofgem, BEIS, the Open Networks Challenge Group and our other committees. The Open Networks programme team liaise with Ofgem and BEIS on an ongoing basis to discuss progress and address any risks.
Programme management documents and resources
The sections below are a collection of programme-wide resources and latest consultation documents.