The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has today (6 March) launched a consultation on an impact assessment of five different “future world” models for its Open Networks project.

The models explore how Britain’s electricity networks might underpin a smart grid, dubbed an “internet of energy”, in the future.

Global consultancy Baringa has produced an independent impact assessment examining the five models, which the ENA has launched a consultation on.

David Smith, chief executive of ENA, said: “This impact assessment provides a clear vision for Britain’s electricity networks to pave the way for a smarter, more flexible energy system.

“That system needs to be fit for the public’s hopes and aspirations as they take advantage of a range of new smart energy technologies that will give them more control over the energy they use.

“This vision is clear in its direction, but pragmatic in its nature.

“It will allow network operators to build on the progress they’ve made so far through the Open Networks project to ensure the people can access the benefits of a smart grid as quickly as possible, whilst leaving the door open to more radical changes in the future.”

In preparing the network companies for a transformation into distribution system operators (DSOs), the five models were published last summer as part of efforts to come up with a blueprint for stakeholders.

DSOs will play a more active role in the management of their networks which will see new sources of local flexibility – distributed generation, demand-side response and storage – deployed to deal with congestion and constraints.

According to figures by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), the British public is predicted to save as much as £8 billion by 2030 from smart energy technologies.

Duncan Sinclair, partner for energy, utilities and resources at Baringa, added: “The trends seen worldwide towards more renewables and greater electrification are putting strains on electricity networks, particularly at the distribution level as the system also becomes more decentralised.

“Planning and operating the electricity networks is becoming increasingly complex, and in order to keep costs down, distribution system operators must maximise the use of flexible resources connected to their networks.

“The ENA’s Open Networks project is exploring how best to do this, and it has identified five potential future worlds.

“Our independent impact assessment of these future worlds is the first time an attempt has been made to understand the costs, benefits, strengths and weaknesses of the potential new models of distribution system operation.”

Responses to the consultation must be submitted electronically to by Wednesday 1 May 2019.

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