Thursday 31 March 2022

The future of flexibility: boosting market confidence and expanding opportunities for customers

The future of flexibility: boosting market confidence and expanding opportunities for customers

Whether you’re an industry expert or just an energy consumer, we’re all thinking longer and harder about how we use energy, and how we can change to help reach net zero emissions. For the UK’s energy networks, this means continually improving how we decide what we do when faced with managing a constraint on the network. A constraint essentially acts like a bottle neck to delivering energy and means action needs to be taken so systems keep operating at their most efficient whilst supplying our customers’ energy needs.

In 2020 ENA – through its Open Networks programme – developed a tool that helps the networks get the right solution on to the network when faced by these constraints, by assessing different potential intervention options. Designed to help all distribution network operators in Great Britain to be able to ‘market test’ and make decisions on potential flexibility solutions vs the counterfactual, it was adopted nationally a year ago (1 April 2021).

The UK’s energy networks have committed to a level playing field across the country and our tool, known as the Common Evaluation Methodology (CEM) is, arguably, the world’s first of its type. It is a significant step forward in building confidence in new local markets as it enables a common and transparent methodology for assessing flexibility across GB. Developing this common approach through Open Networks has allowed us to bring together expertise from across the country, and through extensive input from the industry and potential users, to make sure everyone can realise the benefits.

This input continues to be crucial as we look to further shape and develop the next iterations. Our latest public consultation on the tool opened in March and seeks views on the developments made in 2021 – specifically how we value optionality. It is open for one more week, until Friday 8 April, and I would encourage anyone with an interest in this area to get involved and have your say. We can only reflect the needs and preferences of wider industry if we receive feedback and guidance. No opinion goes unread, and we value all direction.

The consultation document and accompanying slides are all openly available on ENA’s online channels. We recently hosted a webinar in partnership with future Net Zero too to take people through the latest changes and proposed updates – with the recording available to watch.

Opening local markets for flexibility services remains a major focus of the Open Networks programme. Building these markets requires consumers to have the confidence to participate, so having a standard decision-making process across the country means that those wishing to pitch-in and provide services to the networks know exactly what criteria will be used to assess their solution no matter the location.

Written by

Bruna Pinhoni

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