As customers are becoming increasingly more open to electric vehicles, domestic energy storage and smart appliances, the UK’s largest electricity distributor is developing a smart and flexible energy system to reduce user costs.
UK Power Networks has published its response to Ofgem and the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy’s call for evidence on “A Smart, Flexible Energy System”. The document sets out the company’s innovative plans and priorities, while it continues to deliver reliability and value for more than 8million homes and businesses across the East, South East and London.
As the energy industry changes, Distribution Network Operators like UK Power Networks are already becoming Distribution System Operators as energy generated by renewable sources flows into and is managed by local networks, in addition to their traditional delivery of power flowing out to homes and businesses.
Suleman Alli, director of Safety, Strategy and Support Services said: “We have already begun to transform our business. The roll out of active network management of Distributed Generation (DG) has already allowed 330MW of generation to connect saving of over £100m to DG customers. Research shows that a smart, flexible energy system has the potential to save customers up to £8billion a year by 2050”.
To ensure the benefits to customers are delivered UK Power Networks will:
• Build on its Electric Vehicle plans to enable smart charging;
• Further develop the commercial and technical capabilities of a DSO;
• Continue to improve processes and operations to allow better use of embedded low carbon generation
• Support industry wide innovation in new commercial arrangements that support local energy, and deliver solutions that lower costs for customers.
Suleman added: “This will only be made possible by Distribution Network Owners like UK Power Networks taking a much more active role in managing the energy flowing through their networks as Distribution System Operators.
“A key focus for 2017 will be the continued development of our roadmap to become a Distribution System Operator and ensure that our networks retain the flexibility required to adapt to the changing industry environment, including new technologies like electricity storage systems, electric vehicles and smart appliances.”
“In developing our response, we have actively engaged with stakeholders, including renewable generators, storage providers, aggregators, suppliers and new IT platform providers. Our engagement has provided us with first-hand experience of the issues which these stakeholders face, both in their interaction with us as a network operator and also the wider market place. We have used this experience to inform our response.”
Distribution networks have already responded to the challenge of the changing energy market, connecting 27GW of DG from wind and solar farms – of which 8.5GW has connected across UK Power Networks’ service area (with a further 2.4GW contracted to connect).