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Dr Avinash Aithal, Open Networks technical lead at the ENA takes a look at the latest flexibility updates. Image: ENA.
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A ‘flexibility first’ approach: Unlocking capacity, opening markets & powering towards Net Zero

Dr Avinash Aithal, Open Networks technical lead at the ENA takes a look at the latest flexibility updates. Image: ENA.

I’ve been part of the Open Networks team at Energy Networks Association (ENA) since April and have been impressed with what the team have achieved alongside Britain’s electricity distribution networks so far this year.

In addition to taking further steps in improving transparency, removing barriers and simplifying participation, we recently revealed record levels of local flexibility have been contracted – with an impressive 1.6GW contracted since the beginning of 2021 to date. This is an uplift of 45% since 2020, when 1.1GW was contracted for the whole year.

This announcement comes at a time when flexibility is at the forefront of industry’s mind. Not only is it a key aspect of delivering a green recovery as it enables us to meet Britain’s targets for the widescale roll out of electric vehicles (EVs) and heat-pumps, but new figures from Government's Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan – which ENA welcomed – show that flexibility could also reduce annual energy system costs by £10 billion a year by 2050 while also creating 24,000 ‘green collar’ jobs.

However, there is still plenty of room for growth and we are not resting on our laurels. Networks, Ofgem and Government are working together to increase the amount of flexibility in the energy system of the future and Open Networks is welcoming responses to a wide-reaching consultation on flexibility from the energy industry and beyond on how the project can further drive standardisation in local energy markets right across the country. The consultation is open until 24 September 2021, and industry viewpoints are vital in bringing the energy system closer to the people it serves.

We have a number of ways that we are working with industry and wider stakeholders during the consultation period to encourage engagement, including hosting online events such as a webinar earlier this week and developing supportive documents to aid in shaping a response.

This includes a new paper, out this week, which will explain Flexible Connections, providing information on:

  • What are the different types of Flexible Connections?
  • What are the factors that influence Curtailment?
  • What is the difference between Flexible Connection and Flexible service?
  • Can Flexible Connections contracts be moved to a Standard Connection?

Intended for customers who have flexible connections, are considering flexible connections or have a general awareness of Active Network Management (ANM) but would like to understand more; the paper willassist stakeholders in further understanding these areas as they are a key part of our consultation and also Ofgem’s Access and Forward-looking Charges Significant Code Review - Consultation on Minded to Positions.

Dr Avinash Aithal's photo

Dr Avinash Aithal Open Networks technical lead

Dr Avinash Aithal, is the Open Networks technical lead at Energy Networks Association.

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