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Having confirmed plans to completely separate the Electricity System Operator from National Grid and establish a fully independent Future System Operator by 2024, Ofgem is now exploring potential options for system operation at the distribution level. In the first of a two-part series, Utility Week looks at the positions taken by electricity distribution networks, both in their RIIO ED2 business plans and their responses to a call for input by the regulator.  
Analysis
The scale of the government's £15 billion cost of living support package took the energy sector by surprise and has been warmly welcomed as a meaningful intervention to help billpayers this winter. But, as experts tell David Blackman, policymakers now face the challenge of finding more sustainable, long-term solutions to the cost of living crisis.
Analysis
The heat sector is in virtually universal agreement that energy efficiency is an essential first step in decarbonising heating in UK homes. Despite this broad consensus, the government appears to remain apathetic towards the subject. Members of Utility Week's Heat Council put forward a range of ideas and measures that could be implemented in the short-term, including an Eco+ scheme, a national home census and even a possible role for Martin Lewis.
Analysis
As water companies come under increasing pressure from customers, environmental groups, politicians and the media to "solve" the issue of discharges from combined sewer overflows, Utility Week talks to three water companies who explain that this is a societal issue – not one that the sector alone can solve.
Analysis
Soaring gas prices have ramped up the costs of producing blue hydrogen. Its critics say this should be the final nail in its coffin, however advocates say it is a necessary bridge to the development of truly zero-carbon hydrogen. Tom Grimwood explores the arguments on both sides.
Analysis
Marred by connectivity issues and a lack of consumer interest, there are still 50% of properties without a smart meter more than a decade into the rollout and the chances of completing the project by 2025 now seem remote. Should the rollout be handed over to the networks as a ‘plan B’? Or should the devices remain optional for consumers but with greater incentives? And will the deployment ever actually end? Utility Week asks the experts.
Analysis
The merits of sharing data, for everything from net zero to delivering help to vulnerable customers, is clear to the utilities sector. However, there is still no clear pathway to embedding a culture of data sharing and differences of opinion remain on whether a centralised approach to setting standards for data exchange would accelerate or obfuscate this journey. Data and innovation leaders shared their thoughts with Utility Week.
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