UK Power Networks aims for role as distribution systems operator

The UK’s largest electricity distributor has announced its intention to become a Distribution System Operator (DSO).

UK Power Networks believes the move will help it deliver a smart, flexible energy system in accordance with the ongoing clean energy transition and they estimate they could save customers more than à‚£1.6bn a year.
UK Power Networks reports that the company, which delivers electricity to 18 million people in London, the East and South East, is already a Distribution Network Operator (DNO), which simply manages the network. à‚ 

However, a DSO securely operates and develops an active distribution system comprising networks, demand, generation and other flexible distributed energy resources. The move will help UK Power Networks’ customers with the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs), demand response contracts and smart grid technologies such as energy storage.

“We are on the verge of a change as significant for electricity as the advent of broadband was for telecommunications,” UK Power Networks chief executive Basil Scarsella said. “We are working with policy makers, regulators, academia, SMEs and importantly customers to lay the foundations for an exciting future, which will place customers in control of energy usage.

The announcement comes alongside a strategy consultation paper which outlines how UK Power Networks is already helping to transform the energy grid. The operator claims it has connected 8.5 GW of distributed generation to its networks, installed chargers for 25,000 EVs and received 16GW of connections for battery storage.

Earlier this month, UK Power Networks and the National Grid launched a new service to enable more electricity generation across the South East of England.

With “significant amounts” of renewable energy generation, a nuclear power station and interconnecting cables to Europe, the area has one of the most complex district networks to manage. The new framework allows electricity generators to connect to the grid without costly reinforcementsà‚ on the transmission network in the region.

An à‚£18.4m grid-scale battery system in Bedfordshire operated by the company can, they say, potentially transform the energy grid and play a major role in the transition towards a low-carbon economy.

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