31 Jul 2019

New plans make it easier for flexible energy to connect - Open Networks Project launches new consultation

Britain’s world leading transition to a dynamic smart grid has reached another key milestone as ENA’s Open Networks Project launches its consultation on Application Interactivity and Connection Queue Management.

Responding to feedback from stakeholders and to deliver parts of the governments Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan, the Open Networks Project is looking to make it easier and quicker for all customers, including those offering flexibility, to connect to the grid, releasing capacity and providing new opportunities for all. This will help to keep Britain a clean energy powerhouse and help deliver the government’s Net Zero target.

Interactivity and Queue Management is a fundamental part of how our future smart grid will operate. Allowing network companies to prioritise flexibility depending on need will alleviate constraints on the network, allow more customers to connect and secure the energy we rely on every day. Flexibility services have the potential to save up to £40bn across the system by 2050, and continuing to build on the record amounts of renewables already in our energy system will help us reach our ambitious Net Zero target.

Although network companies already have systems in place for where applications impact on each other, the Open Networks consultation on Application Interactivity, a long standing and challenging issue, represents a real milestone in the transition to the smart grid by looking to standardise this process. With an industry-wide policy on application interactivity, networks will be able to create a clear and transparent experience for customers.

The consultation also proposes modernising the connections queue, firming key dates in the process and standardising this across all network operators. Moving applications up and down the queue depending on network need and capacity will bring more clean energy into the system by enabling Britain’s world leading flexibility markets and creating even more dynamic energy networks.

Building an energy system that works for all users is at the heart of the recently announced Flexibility Commitment: Our Six Steps for Delivering Flexibility Services, enabling more users to connect low-carbon energy to the network than ever before. Having systems and processes in place that are equipped to handle the changes to our transmission and distribution networks with more connected resources is essential.

The reforms being consulted on over the next few weeks will help create the processes that will deliver on the networks’ commitment and powering Britain forward to an ‘Internet of Energy’.

Commenting, David Smith, Chief Executive of ENA, said:

The Open Networks Project is leading the way on our much needed transition to the smart grid, looking at ways we can speed up connections, encourage new flexible energy markets and deliver Net Zero.

The record amounts of investment in Britain’s energy system has led to savings, and record levels of reliability for homes, businesses and communities all across the country. The short-term changes and long-term vision of the Open Networks Project will help maximise these benefits for all and I encourage stakeholders to share their views with us.

Contact Information

Energy Networks Association

+44 (0)7792 220 974

[email protected]

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Notes to editors

  • 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 will run from 31st July 2019 and end on 25th September 2019. Responses should be sent to [email protected].
  • Application interactivity is the situation where network companies receive two or more connection applications that will make use of the same part of the existing or future network and where not all the applicants can be connected without a material impact on the connection offers made in respect of such other applications, such as incurring additional reinforcement. The resulting connection offers are referred to as interactive connection offers.
  • Connections Queue Management is the process by which network companies manage contracted connections against limited capacity. To date this has largely relied on a ‘first to contract, first to connect’ principle. However, as the customer base across transmission and distribution has evolved with growth in renewable generators and the introduction of new technologies, there is some concern that the existing framework no longer delivers the best outcome for network companies and their customers.
  • Analysis of electricity system flexibility for Great Britain can be found 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 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.
  • The Open Networks Project is currently consulting on Flexibility Services, looking at creating a uniform customer journey for anyone wishing to connect flexibility services to the networks. The consultation closes on 23rd August.
    • More information on the consultation, including the consultation document, can be found here.
  • BBC report on clean energy overtaking fossil fuels in Britain can be found here.

About Energy Networks Association

We're the voice of the networks. We’re the trade body for the companies which run the UK and Ireland’s energy networks, keeping the lights on and gas flowing.

As the voice of the energy networks, ENA acts as a strategic focus and channel of communication for the industry. We promote the interests and good standing of the industry and provide a forum of discussion among company members.

Follow us on Twitter: @EnergyNetworks
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