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Energy networks make it easier for companies to provide flexibility services

ENA has made it easier for companies to provide flexibility services to the energy sector by refreshing and streamlining a common contract used across the sector.

The updates, published today, offer more transparency and will unlock liquidity in local markets for flexibility, ultimately pushing down energy bills in the long term.

The standard contract has been created through ENA’s leading Open Networks project, with input from distribution network operators and National Grid Electricity System Operator, to provide a consistent GB-wide core agreement for those wishing to provide vital flexibility services to the networks. It will help take the transition to the smart grid to the next level and marks another step forward in bringing consistency across the industry.

The new contract has been developed with feedback from a range of industry stakeholders including Ofgem and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Key updates include:

  • simplifying the core contract, providing increased alignment with ESO approach
  • making clauses more accessible across the agreement
  • making the process more accessible to aggregators

The energy networks have made significant progress on flexibility services since the launch of a dedicated workstream as part of ENA’s Open Networks project at the beginning of 2019. With over 2GW of flexibility tendered by distribution network operators last year, the workstream has played a key role in helping all distribution network operators prioritise and deliver their flexibility commitments.

Farina Farrier, Head of Open Networks Project at Energy Networks Association, said:

“The UK is already a world leader when it comes to energy flexibility and as part of the UK’s commitment to Net Zero, the whole of the energy industry is behind making it easier and more accessible to work with network operators. We’ve got lots of work ahead of us but by really focusing on providing a consistent, accessible way of working together, we can maintain that world-leading position and power towards Net Zero emissions.”

Alex Howison, Flexible Solutions Manager at Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks said:

“It’s brilliant to be able to take the lead in actioning another positive step towards a ‘whole industry’ standard agreement being finalised. Flexibility is critical for enabling the UK to reach Net Zero and is vital to help customers get the most from new technologies – while helping networks to manage their systems better and plan investment.

“The momentum ENA’s Open Networks project has built, and the pivotal role it plays in the energy transition, will continue into 2021 and this will be another year of action and delivery for the flexibility services workstream.”

A public consultation on the next version of the common contract will follow in August, with plans to launch at the end of the year. Its associated contractual evolution report will be launched later this month.

About our Open Networks project

Now in its fifth year, ENA’s Open Networks project has helped Britain to become a superpower of renewable energy. The Covid-19 pandemic reinforced the urgency of Britain’s transition to a smart grid that works for all. Flexibility services proved to be a valuable resource on the networks to keep Britain’s energy flowing, as the country shifted to home working and demand patterns changed throughout the country. Although the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic remain the project will keep up the pace of change and seek to increase engagement.

Examples of flexibility services

  • Households charging their electric vehicles at off-peak times or when it is sunniest, whilst other households’  domestic solar panels are generating electricity.
  • Businesses striking demand-side response agreements to adjust their electricity use at the times of day when they least need it, helping reduce the need and cost of building new infrastructure.
  • Using battery storage to help network operators proactively manage a rapidly changing electricity grid where electricity now flows in many different directions, rather than in just one as it has done in the past.

The Open Networks Project 2020 End of Year review and the 2021 Project Initiation Document (pre-consultation) can be downloaded from our website.