Local flexibility: The key to the future of networks


The key findings of the report are: the distribution network is under a period of unparalleled change; the transition to an actively managed distribution network is just beginning and is essential to maximize value from existing infrastructure; and, while the shift is ambitious, it requires all stakeholders to strike the right balance.

Andrew Enzor, senior consultant at Cornwall Insight, said: “Pressures on distribution networks are changing. We already have increasing levels of generation connected to the distribution networks with demand set to rise as electrification of transport and heat progresses. Flexibility from network users will be a crucial element of minimizing the cost of accommodating low carbon technologies at scale on distribution networks.

“Regional flexibility markets are beginning to emerge as a critical tool for network and system operators to procure flexibility services and to manage network constraints. This is set to continue and is essential for networks to maximize value from existing infrastructure and be able to keep costs down for bill payers.

“Policymakers and network operators are recognizing that accelerating and deepening the use of local flexibility allows reinforcement decisions to be deferred until there is much greater certainty that they will be needed. Not only this, but the extra flexibility is likely to increase investment for flexible and smart technologies.

“The transition is ambitious and will require a complete change to how distribution networks operate. Delivering this ambition is reliant on a multi-stakeholder integrated planning approach, which is heavily dependent on data, communication and co-operation.

“Throughout the series of papers, we will be considering the key aspects of the markets in greater detail and monitor developments as they grow.”