A ‘blueprint for the foundations of Britain’s Internet of Energy’ has been published today.

It proposes a framework for national and local grid operators to redesign their operations to deliver a true smart grid.

The blueprint is part of an independent impact assessment report produced by consultants at Baringa Partners on behalf of the Open Networks Project, a major industry initiative led by the Energy Networks Association – the trade group of TSOs and DSOs – and comprising the UK and Ireland’s electricity network operators, the government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, energy regulator Ofgem, plus academics, trade associations and NGOs.

The blueprint proposed involves local and national electricity grid operators working more closely together to coordinate the use of new energy services which use smart energy technologies provided by Britain’s homes, businesses and communities.

The report states that this will “enable operators to run the grid in a smarter, more efficient and more flexible way, whilst giving the public new opportunities to benefit from a smart grid”.

It adds that this path “will ensure that the public will be able to access benefits from Britain’s smart grid in the quickest and cheapest way possible”.

And the ENA says it will also ensure “that grid operators can respond quickly and flexibly to new developments over the next ten years. They do so in a way that will allow for a potentially radical decentralisation of the way the electricity grid works if there is sufficient take up of new technologies”.

Longer-term, the ENA stresses that the success of this industry-wide transformation will be determined by the continued pace of uptake of distributed energy resources, such as solar PV and wind turbines, and the rising volume and value of flexibility services in the UK market.

ENA chief executive David Smith said: “This impact assessment provides a clear vision for Britain’s electricity networks to pave the way for a smarter, more flexible energy system. That system needs to be fit for the public’s hopes and aspirations as they take advantage of a range of new smart energy technologies that will give them more control over the energy they use.

“This vision is clear in its direction, but pragmatic in its nature. It will allow network operators to build on the progress they’ve made so far through the Open Networks Project to ensure the people can access the benefits of a smart grid as quickly as possible, whilst leaving the door open to more radical changes in the future.”

Duncan Sinclair, Partner for Energy, Utilities and Resources at Baringa, said: “The trends seen worldwide towards more renewables and greater electrification are putting strains on electricity networks, particularly at the distribution level as the system also becomes more decentralised. 

“Planning and operating the electricity networks is becoming increasingly complex, and in order to keep costs down, distribution system operators must maximise the use of flexible resources connected to their networks.”