This blog was written by ENA's Head of Innovation and Development, Randolph Brazier, for Community Energy Fortnight.
Britain’s energy landscape has changed dramatically in recent years as the fierce urgency of climate change has forced all areas of the industry to work towards net zero. Although recently we’ve been focused on the disruption that has been caused by COVID-19, the pandemic and the resulting recovery offer great possibility for innovation and the low carbon technologies we need to hit net zero. At ENA, our Open Networks Project is bringing us closer to a dynamic smart grid that works for all, and community energy groups are vitally important part of this transition.
Community energy groups play a major role not just in Open Networks but across the whole energy sector and are a key part of the future smart grid. Recognising this importance, last year we formally committed to hold a series of new Community Energy Forums to take the Project into communities and get detailed thoughts on how Open Networks can build an energy system that works for all. These sessions are designed to be intimate discussions led by community groups themselves and, as they did last year, the views and thoughts will feed directly into the future work of Open Networks, bringing community energy to the heart of the Project.
These new roundtables will touch on Open Networks, innovation, and whole energy system solutions to help inform both Open Networks and our recently launched sister project, Gas Goes Green. While we’re still confirming details, we are delighted to be working with Community Energy England on the plans and we expect to send invites out soon for the first Forum this summer.
Flexibility and our ability to operate the nation’s electricity infrastructure in a more flexible way has been one of the keys to keeping our energy flowing through the Coronavirus pandemic. With supply and demand patterns shifting as we grapple with this new normal, the resources community groups have across the country have been on the front line, reacting quickly and securely to keep Britain’s energy flowing.
We’ve all seen the great news stories over the past few weeks and months about the UK’s reliance on coal shrinking, and renewables climbing to make 44% of the entire electricity mix in Great Britain in Q1 2020. Networks are looking to build on these great successes and throughout 2020, across all four standard flexibility products, well over 1GW is being tendered out by the networks in a significant increase on what went out for tender in 2019. This is great news not only for decarbonisation targets, but also provides great opportunity for local community groups who can now access a new revenue stream through the expanding local markets Open Networks is championing.
The standardisation being driven through the Open Networks Project includes a new standard contract for flexibility procurement, System Wide Resource Registers, and a forthcoming DSO Implementation Plan. This will unlock liquidity in local markets for flexibility, further driving down bills for customers.
It’s an exciting time for the energy transition as we focus on economic recovery after the Coronavirus pandemic in the greenest way possible, but also continuing to build a grid that leaves nobody behind. Community energy groups, projects, and people are a key part of this transition, and we encourage everyone to get involved however they can.
ENA is proud to have an extensive community engagement programme that informs every step of our work. We have a series of upcoming events that we would love to get community energy groups a part of and engaged with.
Community Energy Forums
After the success of our two community roundtable events last summer, this year we formally committed to host these regularly as part of the Open Networks Project.
We are currently finalising the preparations and dates and will be sending invites soon. These forums are a great opportunity to let us know your thoughts on our work, what you think the project should prioritise, and provide a greater community energy voice into Open Networks. Details of our first event in July / August will be sent around shortly, and we would encourage community groups to really take advantage of these forums to help build an energy system that works for all.
Beginning in late July and running for 8 weeks, our Flexibility Consultation seeks views and thoughts from across the entire industry on the work we are doing with local flexibility markets. More information will be emailed around ahead of the launch but getting a strong response from community groups is really important to our future work on flexibility.
We regularly host a number of webinars and events to present our work and hear your thoughts on how we can improve. See the details of our upcoming webinars below and use the links to register.
- Applications Interactivity Webinar: 20 July, 13:30 – 15:00, register to attend here
- Flexibility Consultation Webinar 1: 26 August, 14:00 – 15:00, register to attend here
- Flexibility Consultation Webinar 2: 9 September, 14:00 – 15:00, register to attend here
- Energy Innovation Forum #6: 24 June, 09:00 – 12:00, register to attend here
- Sharing information and learnings on the recently released Innovation Strategies
- DWG Webinar: TBC – beginning of July
- More information and registration details will be circulated ahead of the event
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About Energy Networks Association
Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.
ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.
Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Grid Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.
What are energy network operators?
Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 40,000 people in Great Britain.