ENA’s Open Networks project to support UK smart energy grid

ENA to support UK smart energy grid © Jared Kennedy
© Jared Kennedy

The UK’s Energy Networks Association (ENA) has issued a new consultation on its Open Networks project, which seeks to lay the groundwork for a UK smart energy grid.

The project began in 2017 with support from the UK government, and brings together ten network companies across the UK and Ireland to anticipate and prepare for the introduction of a UK smart energy grid which will take advantage of numerous innovations happening in the sector.

This grid would take advantage of and anticipate a variety of emerging technologies from many different sectors, which have potential applications in energy. To achieve this, the ENA plans to increase stakeholder engagement with the second phase of the project.

The second phase will increase the project’s workload significantly, to deliver 29 products over the course of 2018. The project aims to deliver in four key areas:

  • Investment in a whole system approach;
  • Improving reliability standards and emergency requirements;
  • Review available information on flexibility services; and
  • Modelling and analysis on future market models.

David Smith, chief executive of the ENA, explained the aims of the ongoing project to Clean Energy News: “The Open Networks project has, from the start, been designed to be adaptable and flexible in response to feedback from stakeholders. This consultation continues that process into 2018, and indicates our commitment.”

How are energy networks responding to innovation?

One of the major innovations expected to revolutionise the energy sector is the use of unmanned aerial vehicies, which have great potential to limit operation and management costs. Drones can be used for remote maintenance of energy infrastructure, including surveying transmission lines and even removing debris and carrying out simple repairs.

According to figures from Power Engineering International, demand for drones in the energy sector is expected to reach a market value of $4.47bn (~€3.61bn) between 2017 and 2025. Drones are expected to be adopted by utility companies as key nodes in the electricity network over 2018, and could form a vital part of the UK smart energy grid.

Other expected innovations over the next year in the energy sector include a major boost to the use of smart meters connected to apps, and the development of artificial intelligence systems for the management and operation of energy generation plants.

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