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The Open Networks Project has so far helped establish 3GW of local flexibility market capacity. Image: Getty.
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Driving decarbonisation: Collaboration and co-ordination remain vital for 2022

The Open Networks Project has so far helped establish 3GW of local flexibility market capacity. Image: Getty.

In 2017, Open Networks was launched as a cross industry initiative by Energy Networks Association (ENA) to bring the industry together and look at how the networks need to evolve to become a smart and flexible energy system. The key role of the programme is to help drive the transition to a carbon-free smart grid Britain and support the UK’s energy networks to push forward towards the ultimate goal of net zero carbon emissions.

Through our work over the years, the programme has helped to:

  • Establish local markets for flexibility that are one of the largest in the world (around 3GW).
  • Simplify and standardise processes for flexibility across GB, making participation easier and improving transparency in how decisions are made to boost market confidence.
  • Provide clear pathways for the Distribution System Operation (DSO) transition through a roadmap which provides details of over 500 detailed steps being progressed by network companies.

While we have made good progress over the years, there is more to do in and in much shorter timescales, particularly given the recent commitment to decarbonise the energy system by 2035.

2022 will be another critical year as we ramp-up our efforts to deliver Net Zero-ready networks. The UK Government’s recent Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan has given a clear mandate to Open Networks to deliver a common framework for flexibility by 2023 and this has informed our work plan and prioritisation. As part of this, we have proposed a range of products that will help to deliver a step up in standardisation and coordination across networks and additionally, the project will kick off work to define carbon reporting methodologies for flexibility markets.

These proposals have been published as part of our high-level work plan for next year, which is available on ENA’s website, and we openly invite feedback from anyone interested in helping to shape the smart grid of the future, with our consultation open until 16 November. There are a number of ways people can get involved and provide feedback, including joining a webinar hosted by our work area leads at 2pm on Tuesday 2 November.

As the programme enters its fifth year, exploring ways to work more closely with wider industry to shape key developments on flexibility is vital. The project is open with the way we work, the outputs we publish and in receiving stakeholder feedback. However, going a step further to both invite people in from an earlier stage and from a wider range of areas challenges us to ensure we’re continuing to work collaboratively.

With the government’s Net Zero strategy launching last week, delivering this change in collaboration with the industry will be more important than ever.

Find out more on the programme’s plans for next year on ENA’s website. Any responses to the 2022 high-level work plan consultation must be sent via email to by Tuesday 16 November.

Farina Farrier's photo

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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