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ENA targets whole system thinking in ‘biggest year yet’ of Open Networks Project

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has this morning kicked off what promises to be the “biggest year yet” for its landmark Open Networks Project.

Entering its third year, the Open Networks Project is the ENA’s initiative aimed at bringing together the country’s leading energy experts to lay the foundations for a smooth and successful energy transition.

And the trade body intends for 2019 to be the year it looks further beyond short-term gains with the introduction of new workstreams and a focus on whole energy system thinking.

This has seen the Open Networks project evolve from five individual workstreams into six, three of which are focused on shorter term improvements that can be progressed while longer term work is in development.

2019 workstreams

Workstreams 1A and 1B will focus on flexibility services and whole electricity system planning respectively. Both are aimed at expanding the work completed during previous years, with the aim of translating as many processes into business as usual (BAU) as possible.

Workstream 2, titled Customer Information Provision & Connections, is intended to rollout good practices developed in 2018 and bring a “level of convergence” across networks in the connections process.

Workstream 3, meanwhile, is to target the DSO transition and, specifically, activities required to transition to future world(s) scenarios outlined by the ENA, with the added aim of building a more complete evidence base for future regulatory decision reached by BEIS and Ofgem.

The ENA’s new addition to the workstream roster this year is Workstream 4, targeted at the whole energy system. Whole energy system thinking has been a prevalent topic of discussion in recent months ands the ENA’s workstream has been designed to scope and push forward cross vector thinking and developments in this regard.

The final workstream, Workstream 5, will continue the work of previous years in promoting stakeholder engagement and communications for the Open Networks Project in total.

Responses to the phase 3 consultation are to be accepted until 22 February, after which the future work plan will be finalised.

David Smith, chief executive officer at the ENA, said that the Open Networks Project is playing a key rule in ensuring the digital transformation of the energy system benefits the British public.

“It is set to be the biggest year yet for the Open Networks Project as it continues to lead the industry forward and builds on its focus on the whole electricity system by looking across the energy system at gas, heat, transport and waste.

“We can expect a major boost to flexibility services markets in 2019, with the continued growth of smart energy technologies coupled with data to provide flexibility services to the grid, such as energy storage or demand-side response.”

Phase 2 in review

Today has also seen the publication of the ENA’s 2018 review, documenting the progress the project made in its second phase.

Phase two saw advisory group meetings bring together around 50 experts from the energy sector and, ultimately, witnessed more than 65MW of flexible generation contracted by GB distribution network operators (DNOs).

On top of that, more than 7,300MW of flexibility services was used across the entire GB network for active network management.

Its key objectives in 2018 were to develop improved processes surrounding connections, planning and the shared ESO-DSO operations; assessing the gaps between customer experience and expectations; developing a more detailed view of the DSO transition, and considerations surrounding the charging requirements of transmission and distribution systems.

These areas fed into the high-level work plan, which for 2018 sought to establish a detailed assessment of the DSO transition itself, feeding into more detailed modelling under the Future Worlds work, the development of whole system processes across power networks and the introduction of DSO flexibility products.

Highlights of the year included the signing of the Flexibility Commitment, which the ENA described as a “major step forward” in establishing flexibility markets and further developments in the unlocking of data, which the trade body aims to develop further in tandem with the government’s new Energy Data Task Force.

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