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'Pivotal role' Open Networks Project plays in energy transition to continue through fifth year

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

The Energy Networks Association’s (ENA) Open Networks Project has unveiled its 2021 work plan, highlighting its areas of focus.

Over the next year – the fifth for the project – it will expand its focus on its work on flexibility services, improve the customer connections process and deliver Whole Energy Systems Efficiencies. It will also continue to deliver Distribution System Operator (DSO) functionality and report progress through the DSO Implementation Plan.

The DSO Implementation Plan was released by the networks in 2020, examining eight DSO functions and providing a roadmap to DSO functionality.

Alongside its DSO work, in 2021 the Open Networks Project will also move a number of projects to open governance and change management to allow for enduring solutions that can be updated and refreshed in response to industry feedback.

Key priorities for the project include conducting flexibility market simulations and trials for trading/sharing capacity, updating the standard contract for flexibility services to align with ESO services and considering the benefits and use cases for expanding the Embedded Capacity Register by including assets under 1MW.

It will also address stakeholder concerns on Active Network Management and its interaction with flexibility services, further develop the Common Evaluation Methodology to include work on option value and the evaluation of carbon, and continue outreach to community groups.

These are split between a number of workstreams: workstream 1A flexibility services and 1B whole electricity system planning and T-D data exchange, workstream two will look into customer information provision and connections, workstream three will focus on the DSO transition, workstream four will look at the whole energy system and workstream five will entail communications and stakeholder engagement.

David Smith, chief executive at ENA, said that the "momentum" of the Open Networks Project, as well as the "pivotal role" it plays in the energy transition, is set to continue in 2021 with further delivery and enhancements that will "make interacting with our system as easy as possible".

A six week public consultation is being run on the new work plan, closing on 1 March. It is being launched alongside the Open Networks 2020 End of Year report, detailing the progress the networks have made towards implementing a net zero energy system.

Last year, it delivered an international first with a nationwide standard contract for flexibility services, the ENA said, therefore making it easier to sell services to the networks and allowing customers to earn additional revenue from smart technology.

In August, it launched a consultation into flexibility with the intention of driving standardisation in local energy markets. The consultation called on energy professionals and those outside the industry to comment on how the Open Networks Project could “turbo-charge” the integration of more sustainable energy into the system through flexibility from electric vehicles and domestic batteries amongst other sources.

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