27 Nov 2017
Electricity networks pave the way for smarter energy system ahead of UK’s largest smart grid conference

The way people produce and consume electricity is rapidly changing, with generation becoming more distributed and technologies deployed closer to the end consumer. As a result the responsibilities of local electricity networks are changing as new types of smart and renewable energy technology are connected at a local level, such as solar and wind farms, battery storage and electric vehicles.


The workshops come a week before the UK’s largest UK’s largest electricity and gas smart grid conference, the Low Carbon Networks Innovation (LCNI) Conference, takes place in Telford.


Local electricity network operators Electricity North West Ltd, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks and Northern Powergrid will hold public workshops in Manchester, Oxford, Perth and London this week to consult on their plans to become ‘Distribution System Operators’. The workshops follow similar events held by SP Energy Networks, UK Power Networks and Western Power Distribution earlier this year.


The public workshops are the opportunity for stakeholders to help shape how those roles and responsibilities evolve, as local electricity networks move from their traditional role of simply distributing electricity to playing a far more active role in balancing supply and demand. To fulfil this role they will have to work with a range of different stakeholders.


The events will be attended by a range of individuals and organisations, including customers, generators, and technology and service providers and will include series of panel discussions, project presentations and working sessions to gather feedback.


David Smith, CEO of Energy Networks Association, comments:


“There is a huge opportunity for a wide range of stakeholders to play role in helping shape the way our networks continue to rise to the challenges of decarbonisation.


“Distribution System Operators will lie at the heart of a more decentralised, smarter energy system and these events are a vital opportunity for customers and other stakeholders to have their say on how they would like to see the transition develop.”


The LCNI Conference in Telford will showcase pioneering projects that demonstrate how networks are already adapting to this change.


Hosted by Energy Networks Association (ENA), it brings together all of the UK’s gas and electricity network companies with Government, regulators and key industry spokespeople to provide attendees with a unique opportunity to discuss electricity and gas smart grid innovation with stakeholders from all parts of the country and the energy sector.


Contributors this year include senior representatives of BEIS, Ofgem, Energy Systems Catapult, Imperial College, Newcastle University and Strathclyde University. The event will use an innovative, interactive presentation that will facilitate live polling of the audience in real time.


Over 50 exhibitors, alongside network companies, are expected to present innovation projects that have been awarded funding under the Low Carbon Networks Fund, Network Innovation Allowance and Network Innovation Competition funding mechanisms.


David Smith continues:


The LCNI Conference plays an important role in bringing together some of the UK’s leading stakeholders in energy innovation. Active in communities and regions across the UK, our network operators are already recognised as some of the most innovative in the world and are responsible for ensuring that all of our households, businesses and communities benefit from ongoing innovation. This event is a must-attend conference for anyone with an interest in the future of energy.”