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The ENA launched the Open Networks programme five years ago. Image: ENA.
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Developing a smarter, more flexible grid requires collaboration, creativity and a customer focus

The ENA launched the Open Networks programme five years ago. Image: ENA.

Current± and Energy Networks Association (ENA) are hosting a webinar on 13 April, looking at the ways the energy industry is developing a smarter, more flexible grid. Ahead of this Farina Farrier, head of Open Networks at ENA provides an overview on the work being done to create Net Zero focussed solutions.

A smarter, more flexible energy system is fundamental to reaching the government’s decarbonisation commitments. The last five years has seen ENA’s 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.

ENA’s new online hub sets out the milestones achieved to date, working alongside network companies, Ofgem, UK Government and others in the energy industry, which 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 3GW – the largest in Europe
  • Working with more than 300 industry stakeholders to help inform and shape of the programme.

On the latter, stakeholder input is – and has always been – vital to the success of the programme and plays an even bigger role this year than ever before. From improving visibility of distributed resources on the networks and making network data more accessible to the public to acting on stakeholder feedback to review our governance to enable greater collaboration and delivering the best possible solutions to suit customers’ needs, we are putting our stakeholders at the heart of our plans. Recent examples of this includes:

  • Our latest consultation seeking feedback on the next iteration of a tool used by all distribution network operators (DNOs)in Great Britain to be able to ‘market test’ and make decisions on potential flexibility solutions. Open until 8 April – the consultation document, webinar workshop recording and presentation slides are all openly available on ENA’s online channels.
  • A new tool we are launching next week to help flexibility providers follow a clear, common and more accurate approach for measuring how much flexibility they have delivered to Britain’s DNOs. More information will be shared – but in the meantime feel free to sign up to our webinar to learn more on 20 April at 2pm.
  • As part of our updated governance approach, our new engagement group – a quarterly Dissemination Forum webinar – kicked off this month and anyone with an interest in learning more about the programme’s priorities, progress and our proposals is encouraged to join by signing up.
  • Our 2022 activity overview provides details on our upcoming events, forums, meetings and webinars. This document will be updated regularly throughout the year and can act as the first port of call for anyone looking to engage with us.

And this is only the beginning of the revolution, as we pass the five-year anniversary, we want to ensure that we continue 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

The Ofgem and BEIS Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan reiterates these challenges and opportunities and has given Open Networks the mandate to continue delivering a common framework for flexibility by 2023.

This will be one of the areas we will touch on in our upcoming webinar on 13 April, as well as looking at what the next five years might bring for local flexibility markets. We’ll also be using this opportunity to present opinions from organisation’s that are taking action in the here and now to help encourage the use of renewables and grow the flexibility market.

Ripple Energy, which runs the UK’s first consumer-owned wind farm, is one such organisation. The site’s first wind turbine began operating in South Wales earlier this month. With £2.2 million of funding provided by over 900 owners – and an additional £1.1 million grant contribution from the Welsh Government – the project demonstrates how wind farm ownership can free consumers from volatile, high energy prices and dependence on imported energy. Ripple Energy’s project manager Jamie Adam will be joining us as a panellist to discuss their pioneering work.

As always, Open Networks follows a learn-by-doing approach and is open with the way we work and the outputs we publish – and our Open Networks 2022 Work Plan provides more detail of the programme’s priorities and what’s to come in the year ahead.

You can learn more about work being done on the ground by the likes of Flexitricity and Origami – our other webinar panellists – in my next blog in the coming weeks. Finally, don’t forget to sign up to our webinar at 2pm on Wednesday 13 April – we would welcome anyone with an interest in this area to come and join the conversation.

Farina Farrier's photo
Contributer

Farina Farrier Head of Open Networks, ENA

Farina Farrier is head of the Open Networks project at the Energy Networks Association, having started in 2017 as project manager.

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