ENA launches network flexibility consultation

The Energy Networks Association’s new consultation seeks views on modernising flexibility markets which are “no longer fit for purpose”
Published: Thu 24 Aug 2017

Energy Networks Association’s (ENA) Open Networks Project has launched a consultation to gather input around how to create a smart electricity grid that enables opportunities for distributed energy technologies.

Its consultation, ‘Commercial Principles for Contracted Flexibility’, summarises five key points that need to be addressed to ensure that distributed energy technologies such as battery storage, solar panels and services such as electric vehicle to grid demand response, can provide services in a way that improves network coordination and reduces system costs. These are as follows:

The procurement and operation models used to allow distributed energy sources to offer multiple services,

How DSOs and the SO ensure the levels of visibility and controllability required to effectively manage transmission and distribution network constraints,

Assurances over routes to market for distributed energy sources, and that they can coexist and compete,

How curtailment of distributed energy sources for transmission constraints is treated from a commercial perspective,

And how distribution congestion management roles develop alongside the DNOs’ transition to DSOs.

Each consideration has been divided into more specific questions, with the consultation set to close on 29 September. The responses will feedback into the development of various frameworks required for flexibility services.

Encouraging optimisation

The consultation looks at how the UK energy system can optimise DER assets, deliver access to markets, encourage the development of new business models, and maximise the benefits of competition and third-party involvement. This is in response to the belief that flexibility markets are “no longer fit for purpose” and needs modernising.

In a statement, the ENA said that greater innovation and competition in the markets keeps the costs of operating and maintaining the energy networks down. The benefits can be shared with customers through cost savings and new technologies and services that enable allow them to benefit directly from a smarter electricity grid.

The ENA said that local electricity networks could deliver as much as £1bn in savings as a result of innovations being rolled out more efficiently over the network.

Changing the DSO role

The paper also aims to develop the distribution system operator (DSO) role by outlining different models for how the DSO will interact with the transmission operator and DERs.

According to the association, the evolution of the DSO role will be a major part of the smart energy system, a platform for new technologies, and is a priority for the Open Networks Project.

CEO of Energy Networks Association David Smith said: “The smart grid transition has the potential to create a whole new range of market opportunities for new technology and service providers, many of whom will be participating in the UK market place for the first time.

"Our energy networks increasingly need to access the latest technologies and services in order to ensure continued reliable and cost-effective electricity supply as part of a decarbonised system. This paper is about ensuring they have the access to those things, but also about how we can ensure that we make the most of the smart transition for those companies providing them.”

Leonie Greene, head of external affairs at the Solar Trade Association, said that its members were now “especially keen” to see progress on the creation of new localised markets which would fully embrace solar and storage.

“Change cannot come fast enough for our industry which needs the electricity system to catch up with the rapid pace of technology change in clean power generation and storage. The consultation is a crucial first step towards defining the system change needed and therefore particularly important and welcome,” she said.