Network companies seek feedback on future flexible market

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ENERGY Networks Association’s (ENA) Open Networks Project has launched a consultation on flexibility, seeking to drive standardisation in local energy markets across the country.

The way Britain is generating and using energy is changing rapidly and as the first half of 2020 has shown, the energy system needs to be as flexible as possible to meet these new challenges.

ENA’s Project is laying the foundation for a ‘smart, flexible future’ and welcome views from across the industry, including the businesses and community enterprises which will be making up this future market.

Randolph Brazier, Head of Innovation at Energy Networks Association, which represents the UK and Ireland’s UK and Ireland’s energy networks businesses, commented on the launch: “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.

“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.”

With over 50% of our electricity coming from low carbon sources a net zero system is within reach, and Open Networks is leading and driving the changes needed for a standardised and easy to access future framework.

A framework which will make the market flexible enough to support not only even higher volumes of renewable power but also the electrification of transport and heating.

Britons are already realising the benefits of the grid of the future, with early adopters using smart chargers to find the cheapest times to charge their electric vehicles and domestic batteries to store energy that’s generated when demand and prices are low.

Meanwhile demand side response (DSR) schemes are increasingly popular as they reward customers for shifting their energy use to reduce peak demand.

The Open Networks flexibility consultation will help ‘turbo-charge these endeavours, driving Britain’s efforts to integrate more sustainable energy into our energy system and bringing us closer to net zero.’

An ENA spokesperson commented on the announcement: “Industry viewpoints are vital and bring the energy system closer to the people it serves by identifying barriers to entry, which when overcome will enable new parties to get involved in the market of the future.

“These parties will include hospitals with on-site generation, stores with refrigeration banks and sites with electric vehicle charge-points, creating new revenue streams for these organisations as well as those already participating in national markets, all while decarbonising the economy and reducing the cost to the consumer. ”

The flexibility consultation comes off the back of a successful release of the Distribution System Operation (DSO) implementation Plan which details the steps needed for a more efficient locally managed grid.

As network companies prepare for DSO, flexibility services will form the bedrock of the new smart grid by making the networks more responsive to shifting energy patterns.

The responses to this consultation and Open Networks’ continuing progress on flexibility will underpin the DSO Implementation Plan.

Last year, Open Networks made a commitment to get community energy groups more involved, and this year one of the Project’s new Community Energy Forums will be held during the consultation period to hear back from flexibility providers on what they need from the networks to take the UK another step closer to net zero.

Stephen McMahon, Deputy Director for Electricity Distribution & Cross Sector Policy at Ofgem added: “Embedding flexibility into our energy system is critical to achieving decarbonising of our energy system at least cost to consumers.

“Work to standardise, coordinate and otherwise reduce barriers to entry into flexibility markets must remain a high priority for network companies and the ESO.

“It is vital that the Open Networks project is shaped by strong stakeholder input, to help develop robust outputs and prioritise the remaining work.”

The consultation is running for eight weeks concluding on 25 September, and a formal Open Networks Project response to the feedback will be published later this year.

More information on the consultation is available here