The Energy Networks Association is consulting on how to design a smarter, more flexible grid that harnesses distributed energy and flexibility in order better manage intermittent generation and enables electric vehicles to become a resource, not a problem.
The association has set out five ‘worlds’, ranging from a system where distribution networks act as system operators and call the shots, to one where the electricity system operator (National Grid) retains command, with stages in between where the regional and national system operators co-ordinate around procurement and dispatch of flexibility.
It also moots a system where a new party, a Flexibility Coordinator, acts as a neutral market, providing services to both distribution networks and the national system operator.
The ENA suggested its proposals go beyond those put forward by Dieter Helm in the government commissioned Cost of Energy review. Helm called for the creation of National System Operators (NSOs) and Regional System Operators (RSOs) with licence distinctions between distribution, generation “abandoned at the regional level”.
More flex required
Some distribution network operators have already started their transition to distribution system operators, where they procure balancing services from customers with generation assets or flexible loads to help manage parts of their networks that are running close to their limits.
Under all scenarios put forward by the ENA more flexibility, or demand-side response, will be required to keep the power system stable, as well as network reinforcement i.e. more wires and substations.
How the smart grid (or grids) is managed and by whom is the key question for rulemakers and companies responsible for keeping the lights on and the ENA seeks views on its proposals from businesses by 25 September.
It is running webinars and workshops on the consultation, see this page for details (scroll to bottom), which also contains links to detailed and high level versions of the ENAs proposals.