The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has launched its Distribution System Operator (DSO) Implementation Plan, mapping out steps for the transition.
The plan - which has been developed as part of the Open Networks Project - is designed as an interactive roadmap for how network companies can become DSOs and was produced by consultancy DNV GL.
It mainly includes steps that have been prioritised by network companies for completion within RIIO-ED1, with information on RIIO-ED2 actions currently limited.
Eight functions of a DSO have been examined, the first being system coordination. This includes coordination between the DSO and the ESO, other DSOs/IDSOs and local energy systems, with steps such as developing a common contract for flexibility and coordinating use for DER intertripping to manage constraints.
Whilst the ENA said that network companies have highlighted that operations and processes to maintain a safe and secure system are already in place, the second function focuses on a range of safety aspects including ensuring network power flows remain within thermal limits to minimising losses and managing future risks.
Investment Planning is also highlighted as a function of DSOs, with activities sitting under this ranging from traditional investment planning to co-ordination between the DSOs, the ESO and the TOs to identify whole electricity system options, including commercial distributed energy resources (DERs) options as well as distribution network investment.
The implementation of this DSO functionality covers both RIIO-ED1 and RIIO-2 periods.
The fourth function – Connection and Connection Costs – covers more traditional DNO activities that relate to connections and managing ongoing access to the distribution network.
Most of the steps as part of this function are DNO-led, the plan states, although DNOs, National Grid ESO and the transmission operators (TOs) are planning to enhance their Queue Management and Interactivity processes, which will require DCUSA, STC and CUSC Modifications as well as changes to internal systems.
System defence and restoration is next, with steps in this function including network contingency planning against high consequence events with low probability and Black Start arrangements.
National Grid ESO’s Project ReStart is currently exploring using DERs in the event of a total or partial shutdown of the electricity transmission system, with an aim of procuring Black Start services from 2022. It released an update earlier this week as it hit the halfway point of the project.
DNOs are also planning to review their DNO Blackstart plans to incorporate Active Network Management, low carbon technology and flexible services.
The sixth function is “wide-ranging”, titled Services and Market Facilitation. It covers actions such as assessing the value of flexibility, defining new services and supporting the operation of the markets and systems needed to provide these services.
The implementation of this DSO functionality will be progressed within RIIO-ED1, with the function having the largest number of steps, a feature the ENA said was indicative of the efforts of the Open Networks Project and network companies to facilitate flexibility services.
The seventh function will also largely be progressed in RIIO-ED1, with it focusing on service optimisation. Activities include the identification of network requirements, understanding the limitations of network assets and the facilitation of flexibility services through smart use of networks and DER solutions.
It is intended that these will ensure whole system optimisation and resilience through the optimal selection of flexibility services.
Lastly, function eight is Charging, which the ENA said “recognises a potential DSO role in setting charges for the connection and use of distribution networks”.
This will include the development of Distribution Use of System prices for the local network, the development of transmission charges and distribution costs in whole system charges and the management of transmission costs at the Grid Supply Point.
The development of this function is largely dependent on the Targeted Charging Review, however.
“As Britain’s energy use and generation becomes increasingly varied, it’s vitally important that our energy networks are able to respond to the challenges this new market presents,” David Smith, chief executive of the ENA, said.
"The work of the DSO Implementation Plan provides a clear and transparent route to more local network management, ensuring that people can access the benefits of a smart grid as quickly as possible, taking us a big step closer to a net zero future.”