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Flexibility, collaboration key 2022 priorities for ENA’s Open Networks programme

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Open Networks programme. Image: Getty

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Open Networks programme. Image: Getty

The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has outlined its top priorities for the Open Networks programme this year, with a focus on flexibility, collaboration and decarbonisation.

Flexibility – which the ENA said remains one of the largest and most important areas of work – includes areas such as delivering a common framework for flexibility services and further developing a standard methodology for distribution network operators (DNOs).

A standard methodology was first unveiled in spring 2021 with the intention of helping DNOs assess different potential options for tackling network constraints, ensuring they evaluate flexible options as well as just traditional network reinforcement.

The ENA has also been developing its standardised contract for flexibility services, launching a consultation on the third iteration of this in August.

Its focus on flexibility for the Open Networks programme also includes plans to deliver key actions from the government’s 2021 Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan.

The plan included recommendations that the Open Networks programme should consider changes to the P2 planning standard to release additional network capacity, as well as deliver a framework for appropriate data sharing based on the presumed open principle to optimise procurement across the whole electricity system.

A further priority for the Open Networks programme is a continued focus on informing and implementing key policy in the transition to distribution system operation (DSO) and providing an overarching role to monitor and steer developments.

Additionally, the programme will focus on adopting a revised and more collaborative governance approach to work more closely with the industry in delivering the programme. This includes introducing two new stakeholder engagement groups, with these being a Challenge Group and a Dissemination Forum, both of which are to launch this quarter.

Finally, the programme will focus on further progressing whole energy system work across gas and electricity networks to address key strategic industry challenges in the move to net zero, working alongside the ENA’s Gas Goes Green project, the UK government, Ofgem and industry to achieve this.

These priorities are part of six workstreams for the project, with these being flexibility services, whole electricity system planning and transmission-distribution data exchange, customer information provision and connections, DSO transition, whole energy systems and communications and stakeholder management.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of Open Networks, with the priorities published earlier in the year than usual. This is to better aid transparency of the direction and intentions of the programme, the ENA said.

Farina Farrier, head of Open Networks at Energy Networks Association, said: “It will be another busy but productive year as we get a step closer to government’s 2035 clean energy source target for UK's electricity and the ultimate goal of net zero, and we look forward to rising to the challenge.”

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