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ENA discusses Open Networks adaptation to build on ‘relentless focus on innovation, delivery and net zero’

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has lauded the “relentless focus on innovation, delivery and net zero” its Open Networks project has, declaring it vital to new emissions reductions targets.

In an open letter, published today, the ENA has pledged to adapt its programme of works for this year and establish its goals for 2020.

The letter is in response to a similarly open letter issued in the summer by Ofgem and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) regarding the Open Networks Project.

The original letter to the ENA, dated 16 July 2019, was co-written by BEIS and Ofgem and stated that if energy networks were to remain fit for purpose within a transforming energy system, they would need to evolve in tandem.

It stressed the necessity for flexibility and provided a “clear direction of travel” of the duo’s views on the work of the Open Networks project, describing it at a “useful vehicle” for improved coordination across the network operators.

It did however state that there was now a need for tangible results to emerge from the project and for a pathway to emerge for future development.

In its response, the ENA argues that the project had led a “positive step-change” and brought new benefits to the public.

The trade body has further stressed that it will maintain its focus on delivering tangible outcomes that assist the UK’s network operators in managing their systems in a smart fashion, while also nurturing growth in nascent flexibility services markets.

But despite a series of successes achieved in 2019 to date, including the launch of a new flexibility commitment signed by the country’s distribution network operators, the ENA told both BEIS and Ofgem that it intended to “build further momentum in the right direction” by looking at the next steps towards a smarter grid system in the UK.

Among those commitments in its forthcoming 2020 workplan are a new initiative to monitor how Open Networks outcomes and Flexibility Commitments are implemented every six months, raise necessary changes within network companies and/or electricity codes, and identify barriers to development where Ofgem and/or BEIS intervention may be necessary.

David Smith, chief executive at the ENA, said that the Open Networks project would continue to drive “vital change” within the energy system with direction and support from both BEIS and Ofgem.

“The major work delivered by the project this year alone is the result of stakeholder involvement from across the energy industry and will continue to be key as Britain transitions its energy system.

“Not only is the project laying the foundations for a smarter grid, but it is delivering tangible, short-term changes including enabling the growth of emerging local electricity markets and ensuring local electricity networks can be managed actively and efficiently,” he said.

The full text of the ENA’s letter in response to BEIS and Ofgem can be found here. While the association is not formally consulting on its contents, it is welcoming stakeholder feedback which can be emailed to opennetworks@energynetworks.org by 22 October 2019.

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