Energy Networks Association unveils next phase of its influential Open Networks Project
The Energy Network Association (ENA) is today launching a consultation on how to deliver more flexibility to the UK energy system, as part of the industry body's Open Networks Project, which seeks to help the lay foundations to deliver a net zero emission energy system for the UK.
More than 50 per cent of Britain's energy supply now comes from zero emission sources, but for Britain's energy grid to support higher volumes of renewable power and meet the additional demand created by the electrification of transport and heating experts agree it will need to enable more flexible management of supply and demand.
Solutions to this challenge are already operational in Britain, with early adopters using smart chargers to find the cheapest times to charge their electric vehicles and domestic batteries to store energy generated while demand and prices are low. Similarly, demand side response schemes are growing in popularity with businesses, rewarding customers for shifting their energy use to match peaks and troughs in supply.
However, insiders maintain that the rapid expansion of the so-called flexible grid services market has also been hampered by a raft of policy and technical challenges.
Now the ENA's new consultation is calling for responses from across the energy industry on how uptake of such initiatives can be accelerated across the UK. It will also inform the ENA's work to standardise local energy markets, and seek to identify other barriers slowing the entry of new participants in flexible energy markets, such as hospitals with on-site generation, stores with refrigeration banks, and sites with electric vehicle charge-points.
"Our latest milestone in the three and a half year-long Open Networks Project, this consultation will give flexibility providers with the opportunity to feedback to the networks on the framework we're building for them," said Randolph Brazier, head of innovation at the ENA, which represents the UK and Ireland's UK and Ireland's energy networks businesses.
"The standards we're creating are world-leading; they allow for flexibility providers of all types to more easily offer their services consistently across the country. In doing so they create a competitive marketplace, driving down prices all whilst directly enabling more renewable power to be built-out."
The flexibility consultation will build on ENA's Distribution System Operation (DSO) Implementation Plan, which outlined the steps needed to create more efficient locally managed grids.
Stephen McMahon, deputy director for electricity distribution and cross sector policy at Ofgem, welcomed the new consultation. "Embedding flexibility into our energy system is critical to achieving decarbonising of our energy system at least cost to consumers," he said. "Work to standardise, coordinate and otherwise reduce barriers to entry into flexibility markets must remain a high priority for network companies and the ESO."
The consultation will run for eight weeks, concluding on 25 September. A formal Open Networks Project response to the feedback will be published later this year, the ENA said.
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