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North West power network operator launches energy vision

The regions power network operator sets out vision to support the changing energy landscape which will benefit millions of people and businesses across the North West

North West power network operator launches energy vision

"The evolution we're going through presents an exciting proposition for us and our job now is to develop new relationships with customers, the community and partners in the energy supply chain."
Paul Bircham, Electricity North West

Electricity North West, the region’s power network operator has launched its vision for how it will help transform how energy is delivered across the North West, from electric vehicles to community energy schemes. The report, ‘Powering the North West’s Future’, sets out its innovative plans to meet the Government’s energy decarbonisation challenge by supporting people, businesses and energy producers across the North West region.

By 2050, the UK is tasked with achieving an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions. Last year, for the first time, more than half of all electricity consumed in the UK was generated from zero carbon sources and these new demands means the power network and the infrastructure in place needs to transform and adapt with new and innovative ways to ensure the power continues to flow.

Replacing the traditional Distribution Network Operator (DNO) model, the report outlines the key roles and responsibilities of a smarter, more flexible Distribution ‘System’ Operator (DSO) and the technical and regulatory challenges the industry faces in transitioning to this new model. It follows Electricity North West’s evidence paper ‘The vital role for distribution system operators’ which was launched last year to set out the challenges and opportunities with the UK’s transition to a smart flexible energy system.

Electricity North West strategy director, Paul Bircham commented: “The evolution we are going through in our industry presents an exciting proposition for us as a business and our job now is to develop new relationships with customers, the community and partners in the energy supply chain.

“While the nature and pace of change in the North West cannot be predicted with certainty, it is vital that we identify likely themes and priorities now, so that everyone in our region can face the future with confidence. We are certain that the new report will help to inform regional and national debate about the future role of DSOs.”

Created by the views and expectations of its stakeholders, Electricity North West’s DSO report highlights eight key areas that will help achieve the region’s decarbonisation targets in the organisation’s new role as active Distribution System Operator:

·       Electric vehicles

·       Community energy

·       Renewable energy sources

·       New energy markets

·       Electricity for heat

·       Flexible consumption

·       Active consumer

·       Supporting economic growth

“The energy market is currently undergoing a huge transformation. The traditional top down energy model is being redefined to a much more distributed model, and as a leading voice on energy policy, the report outlines how we intend to drive this vital transition,” Paul adds.

“While the active decentralised model will enable us to support the production of energy locally and directly to communities, using renewable sources, it does present the need for network operators to transform into a smarter more flexible power network. This report highlights how we can meet these new future demands while ensuring bills remain affordable for our customers and supplies remain reliable.”

In December 2017, Electricity North West co-hosted a one-day interactive stakeholder event with Carbon Co-op to help shape thinking and plans around the future of the energy system.

Steps have already been made towards the transition, including the organisation speaking at the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham’s inaugural Green Summit, which outlined plans for making it one of the greenest cities in Europe.

In its advisory role, Electricity North West has also launched a consumer hub - the Big Energy Conversation – aimed at getting the public actively engaged and switched on to the reality of energy consumption. Featuring advice and insights from internal and external experts from across the energy sector, the website arms people with all the information they might need to make important decisions on how they use electricity.