The Energy Networks Association (ENA) is publishing a new report as part of its Open Networks projects – a pan-industry initiative to establish the future roles and responsibilities of network companies.

The document includes a commitment by network operators in England, Scotland and Wales to “create new markets to enable flexibility services that will compete alongside traditional investment”. Network operators in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will also signal their intent to use the services in the future.

The headline figure is based on analysis conducted by Imperial College London and The Carbon Trust for the smart systems and flexibility plan published by the government and Ofgem in July. The research concluded the use of smart grids and flexibility services could create between £17 billion and £40 billion of energy systems benefits by the middle of the current century.

The new report, titled Opening Markets for Network Flexibility, is being unveiled at the Low-Carbon Networks and Innovation Conference in Telford. It states network companies will “rapidly increase the use of competitive markets” over the remaining six years of the current RIIO ED-1 price control period.

“Our energy networks have a great track record of delivering for households, businesses and communities when it comes to network reliability, reducing costs to the bill payer and driving forward new investment in our infrastructure,” said ENA chief executive David Smith.

“Today’s announcement builds on that, as our energy market rapidly changes. It is about creating a system that creates a platform for a whole range of new energy technologies and services that not only allows network companies to manage the system more effectively but give other organisations the chance to benefit from that, whether that be directly or indirectly.”

Energy minister Richard Harrington, said: “Upgrading our energy system to make sure it is fit for the future is a key part of our industrial strategy and the smart systems plan published in July sets out what we will do to make that happen.

“A smarter, more flexible energy system will create opportunities to reduce energy costs, increase productivity and put UK businesses in a leading position to export smart energy technology and services to the rest of the world.”

Ofgem chief executive Dermot Nolan, said: “We welcome today’s commitment by network companies to create new markets for flexibility services following the joint publication of the smart systems and flexibility plan by Ofgem and the government in July.

“Flexibility is key to the transition to a smarter energy system which saves consumers money on their energy bills. We will work with the energy industry, government and consumer groups to make sure that these new services are delivered in whatever way works best for consumers.”

Tom Grimwood

This article first appeared on edie’s sister title website, Utility Week

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