Decarbonisation

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Why the approach we take to enabling net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing is important

We are the enabler of a net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing society. Together with our fellow energy network operators, we must be on the front foot of decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods.

Last year, the UK Government committed to achieving net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. By 2028, the end of the next price control period, the country needs to be well on the way to a decarbonisedThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods energy system. This is one of the most significant transformations for our industry in generations and we have a leadership role to play. Between 2023 and 2028, we need to lead by example.

The next five-year period marks a significant phase of net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing investment. Our overall objective is to deliver investment in our network to set the region on the right track for achieving the UK Government’s net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing goal by 2050, while remaining flexible enough to adapt our plan to changing requirements in the longer term.

We have a clear sense of where we are going and what kind of solutions will get us there, but the exact details of how we will make the transition remain open. We’d like to get your thoughts on the pathway to net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing as this will shape our plans for the next five year. Your views on the balance between taking urgent action to combat climate change and affordability and fairness are particularly important.

There are four key questions to explore with you in this Emerging Thinking phase of our business planning:

1. How electrical will the transition to green energy be?

2. How local will the energy system be?

3. How can we encourage our customers to be flexible in their energy practices?

4. How fast will our region pursue decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods?

What we have done so far

We’ve already done a lot of work to lay the foundations for the additional capability that will be needed on our network to deliver decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods. For example, we have explored different scenarios varying the degrees of decentralisation, electrification, customer flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network and the uptake of low carbon technologies such as heat pumps and electric vehicles on the electricity network. These scenarios were created using assumptions about core elements of energy generation and consumption over the next 30 years and are outlined in the choices section below. You can also read more about the modelling here.

We have also mapped our principles for a just transition to ensure that everyone in our region benefits from the net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing shift:

  • Supporting the creation of green jobs and development of skills – deploying talent in our region;
  • Embracing digitalisationFocused digital and technology agenda that supports the integration of digital technologies to improve Northern Powergrid’s everyday business activities – using innovative solutions to deliver decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods efficiently and effectively while enabling people from all parts of society to benefit from the opportunities that the low carbon transition brings, including customers who are more vulnerable to power cuts or on lower incomes;
  • Keeping downward pressure on costs by being efficient and fair – including network costs, energy costs and advocating for fair national policies on how costs are shared between customer groups.

Developing our plans

  • flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network first: promoting customer and network flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network to harness network flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network as efficiently and effectively as possible;
  • Network investment:meeting the minimum needs of our load growth forecasts for 2023 to 2028;
  • Going further, faster: Staying ahead of the curve, we would invest to create the opportunity for a faster, more flexible pathway

Finding out more

To read more about this section of our business plan in advance of selecting your choices, please click here.

Exploring choices with you

Throughout Emerging Thinking, we are presenting five costed levels of service for each business plan section with the first two service levels reducing and maintaining current costs, respectively. Thereafter, the scale of ambition required to lead initiatives within our wider communities grows. Each costed level of service has a financial implication to be balanced against benefit and investment levels are cumulative, with each level including everything that was in the one before it.

For decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods, investment at the first two levels (A and B) would not allow us to stay on track for net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing by 2050. As a society, we must collectively ensure that we are investing in the Infrastructure The different parts of Northern Powergrid’s network, such as overhead power lines, underground cables, substations etc. Individually, these items are sometimes referred to as ‘assets’ that will be at the forefront of enabling net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing . Levels C, D and E represent significant progress in flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network market development, customer technologies and investment to create the opportunity for a faster and more flexible pathway, enabling us to support various pathways to net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing by 2050.

Whole Systems

Whole System

Our electricity network will play a pivotal role in helping our region reach net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing . However, we can’t do this alone. We will be part of an ecosystem of Infrastructure The different parts of Northern Powergrid’s network, such as overhead power lines, underground cables, substations etc. Individually, these items are sometimes referred to as ‘assets’ and sectors that will collaborate to achieve the best for our customers. Taking a ‘whole system’ view across electricity, gas, heat and transport will underpin a sustainable energy transformation. This is why we have developed our approach to whole system management following extensive stakeholder People and groups with an interest in our operations as the region’s electricity distribution network operator. This includes customers, local authorities and installers of low carbon technology collaboration.

As the country seeks to decarboniseThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods, this cross‐sector working offers opportunities for efficiency, emissions reduction and better value for customers.

This will be achieved through an expansive range of activity in our next business plan period (2023-2028). From large‐scale innovation projects to incremental changes in our business operations, activity will be informed by four strategic objectives:

  • Affordable decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methodsdriving whole system decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods that improves performance at an affordable price;
  • Value for customers – unlocking value for customers by helping them realise financial benefit from their own energy assets Physical equipment connected to the grid that facilitates the generation and delivery of electricity, e.g. substations, transformers and solar panels (such as electric cars or heat pumps);
  • Blueprint for the future – creating the blueprint for a local network that serves a next-generation energy system; and
  • Collaboration – ensuring customers’ future needs are met through cross‐sector planning.

Customers will see the following outcomes:

  • removal of barriers, thus allowing customers to use their equipment, from solar arrays to electric vehicles (EVs), to support the whole energy system;
  • ensuring that our customers’ future needs are met through cross-sector and cross-vector planning;
  • blueprints for the next-generation network and the roll-out of proven innovations; and
  • knowledge exchanges with those specifying future low-carbon technology (LCT) and low-carbon use cases.

Actions we will take to achieve these outcomes include:

  • setting up an energy register and an ‘energy matchmaking scheme’ that allows interested parties with complementary energy needs to find each other;
  • running annual collaboration workshops for heat networks, hydrogenA low-carbon fuel source that could replace fossil fuel alternatives under many net zero future energy scenarios. The production of hydrogen requires significant amounts of electricity and transport sectors;
  • undertaking an inter-seasonal energy requirements assessment to determine the impact of and commercial options for inter-seasonal storage;i
  • collaborating with organisations supplying equipment and solutions to industrial and commercial (I&C) customers and their trade bodies to ensure that standards for future I&C equipment and network Infrastructure The different parts of Northern Powergrid’s network, such as overhead power lines, underground cables, substations etc. Individually, these items are sometimes referred to as ‘assets’ are specified for optimised performance and cost;
  • delivering 30 resilience-improving, future-ready microgridsA small network of electricity users with a local source of supply (such as solar panels or wind turbines) that is attached to our distribution network but also able to function independently on our low voltage network; and
  • developing voltage optimisation programmes at three of our largest sites to deliver cost-saving energy efficiency.

Benefits:

  • faster, cost-effective regional decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods;
  • quicker, cheaper small works connections Delivering new connections to our LV network. For example, connecting two new build houses, or new electric vehicle chargers. Anything under 50KVa. ;
  • the opportunity for customers to make money – not just save money – from their energy assets Physical equipment connected to the grid that facilitates the generation and delivery of electricity, e.g. substations, transformers and solar panels by providing services to the energy system or each other;
  • optimised network and business performance;
  • future energy concepts developed with whole energy systems in mind; and
  • a more reliable network.

i We will consider the differing summer and winter loads as electric heat develops and generation becomes dominated by renewables, and the requirement for summer harvested energy to be stored for winter use (inter-seasonal storage).

Network For net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing

Net Zero

Our local network and the wider UK electricity system are transforming. As we seek to build an energy system that supports all credible decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods pathways, these networks are evolving to meet emerging needs. Renewable generation is replacing fossil fuels and the uptake of low-carbon technologies (LCTs) such as electric vehicles and heat pumps is growing.

There are numerous routes to net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing for our region and we will deliver a network that supports the version that emerges, while maintaining reliable and available electricity supply for our communities.

We have already built a strong position for our network to efficiently support the national target of net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing by 2050 or sooner. Strategic investments, including our £83m smart grid-enabling programmeOur £83m project that prepares our network ahead of bringing more digital technology online to develop our smart electricity network in our current business plan period (2018-2023), have established a strong foundation for a more active and flexible network, and for decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods in our region. All while powering everyday life for the customers that we serve.

As we move into our next planning period (2023-2028), we will take a flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network-first approach to manage increased demand and prevent the need to always physically increase the size of our network.i Enabling flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network service arrangements, which can involve customers shifting the time of energy usage (for example in a factory), supporting the local network with generation at short notice, or offering up the ability to charge empty energy storage with excess power, will be increasingly important as more renewable energy is used and the region decarbonisesThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods.

Flexible power grid management will help us manage load growth from new low-carbon technologies, increase resilience, and accelerate the move to a cleaner, more efficient power network for customers, as well as ensuring we stay ahead of the decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods curve.

Customers will see the following outcomes:

  • network capacity that can deliver all credible decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods and support low-carbon technology uptake across our region;
  • a net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing outcome by 2050 or sooner; and
  • a flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network-first approach that always chooses network and customer flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network solutions when cost effective.

Actions we will take to deliver these outcomes include:

  • running flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network tender exercises where we seek to use flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network rather than Network reinforcement Reinforcement is where we invest customers’ money to improve network capacity. Sometimes we will seek to defer or delay this using other techniques – such as flexibility – to provide better value for money for customers to meet demand;
  • publishing our distribution future energy scenarios report (DFES) and using it to engage with stakeholders People and groups with an interest in our operations as the region’s electricity distribution network operator. This includes customers, local authorities and installers of low carbon technology such as local authorities and major energy users, to understand and plan for their future decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods needs; ii
  • encouraging – via investment – more customers to offer flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network and create a market for flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network services;
  • contracting customers that offer flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network and paying them to shift their energy consumption and generation;
  • investing in smart grid solutionsSpecific methods and technologies used as alternatives to traditional network reinforcement to enable our transition towards a smart electricity network including low voltage (LV) network monitoring; and
  • investing in traditional Network reinforcement Reinforcement is where we invest customers’ money to improve network capacity. Sometimes we will seek to defer or delay this using other techniques – such as flexibility – to provide better value for money for customers where required.

Benefits:

  • a flexible local network;
  • enhanced network management to balance demand;
  • a network that supports all potential decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods pathways;
  • cost saving on traditional Network reinforcement Reinforcement is where we invest customers’ money to improve network capacity. Sometimes we will seek to defer or delay this using other techniques – such as flexibility – to provide better value for money for customers works; and
  • a faster and cheaper route to net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing .

i FlexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network is the ability to increase or reduce the production or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. By adopting a flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network-first approach we hope to better manage network investment cost to ensure affordability for customers.

ii DFES is a set of five forecasts produced annually to help model different pathways for achieving decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods in our region. We engage with our stakeholders People and groups with an interest in our operations as the region’s electricity distribution network operator. This includes customers, local authorities and installers of low carbon technology to gather more accurate information on our region’s energy needs. The five forecasts are:

    -   steady progression;

    -  consumer transformation;

    -  system transformation;

    -  leading the way; and

    -   net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing early.

Distribution System OperatorA distribution system operator (DSO) securely operates and develops an active distribution system comprising networks, demand, generation and other flexible distributed energy resources (DER). As a neutral facilitator of an open and accessible market, it will enable competitive access and optimal use of DER on distribution networks, to deliver security, sustainability and affordability in the support of whole-system optimisation. A DSO enables customers to be both producers and consumers, enabling customer access to networks and markets, increasing customer choice and facilitating great customer service

DSO

The 2020s are a stepping stone to a new energy landscape where customers will take a more active role in the decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods of the energy system.

Our approach will require innovation and a cultural change, which is why we have consulted with stakeholders People and groups with an interest in our operations as the region’s electricity distribution network operator. This includes customers, local authorities and installers of low carbon technology throughout the entire process of developing our plans.

We are transitioning from a distribution network operator (DNO)i to a distribution system operator (DSO)A distribution system operator (DSO) securely operates and develops an active distribution system comprising networks, demand, generation and other flexible distributed energy resources (DER). As a neutral facilitator of an open and accessible market, it will enable competitive access and optimal use of DER on distribution networks, to deliver security, sustainability and affordability in the support of whole-system optimisation. A DSO enables customers to be both producers and consumers, enabling customer access to networks and markets, increasing customer choice and facilitating great customer service,ii which means a smart network that allows customer interaction. As a DNO we have focussed our efforts on the maintenance of our assets Physical equipment connected to the grid that facilitates the generation and delivery of electricity, e.g. substations, transformers and solar panels as the centrepiece of delivering a safe and reliable energy network. Now we must do more. We must balance electricity loads in real time and run our system more proactively as a DSO.

The actions we take to make our network smarter and more flexible will play a key part in enabling the shift to a decarbonisedThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods, greener energy system in our region.

Our DSO strategy supports a wide range of decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods pathways that include both deep electrification and high levels of hydrogenA low-carbon fuel source that could replace fossil fuel alternatives under many net zero future energy scenarios. The production of hydrogen requires significant amounts of electricity being used as a fossil fuel alternative, ultimately seeking the fastest and most cost-efficient route to a net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing future.

To achieve this we will collaborate with stakeholders People and groups with an interest in our operations as the region’s electricity distribution network operator. This includes customers, local authorities and installers of low carbon technology across the energy system on cost-effective, resilient and sustainable solutions that optimise the whole system. We will invest in information technology systems to enable data capture, monitoring and control of our network so that we can harness information to manage the network in the most efficient way. We will also give our workforce new skills and training to deliver the changes required.

We have five strategic objectives:

  • flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network first – promote and establish markets for flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network with investment in systems and processes that enable us to evolve in line with flexible technologies;iii
  • whole-system collaboration – enable whole energy system solutions by engaging with the wider market on our network investment, system management and flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network requirements;
  • data and digitalisationFocused digital and technology agenda that supports the integration of digital technologies to improve Northern Powergrid’s everyday business activities facilitate fast, efficient and optimised decarbonisationUsing the optimum solution to get to net zero through Open data Customers may use data to assess network capacity ahead of installing low-carbon technology or assess the forecasts we are making about the increase in heat pumps. Making data available is a key part of how we can support customers in the shift to net zero , insight capability and digital tools;
  • openness and transparency – earn trust through open and transparent decision making by publishing our investment decisions and flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network procurement results and collaborating in joint planning with our local stakeholders People and groups with an interest in our operations as the region’s electricity distribution network operator. This includes customers, local authorities and installers of low carbon technology ; and
  • workforce fit for the future – build regional and national skills and value through the development of knowledge, transferrable skills and an innovative culture.

Customers will see the following outcomes:

  • a significant expansion of our network and market data to establish a smarter and more active energy system;
  • transformed analytics capabilities to enable data-driven decision making in planning and operational timescales;
  • a step change in our capability to optimise a system with increasing customer and network flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network;
  • significant uptake of customer flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network;
  • facilitated development of new markets for customers to provide services to networks;
  • new capabilities and benefits through the provision of open energy system data; and
  • increased engagement in joint network planning.

Actions we will take to achieve these outcomes include:

  • investing in our people;
    • upskilling and recruiting engineers to use whole energy system thinking to provide complex decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods solutions;
    • creating a team of flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network relationship managers to actively engage with different customers and facilitate flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network market development;
  • working with our stakeholders People and groups with an interest in our operations as the region’s electricity distribution network operator. This includes customers, local authorities and installers of low carbon technology ;
    • assisting with the design of local area energy plans (LAEPs) in collaboration with local authorities and the wider energy sector and feeding insights into our own plans;iv
    • collaborating to improve information exchange and to understand flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network service requirements;
  • investing in data and digitalisationFocused digital and technology agenda that supports the integration of digital technologies to improve Northern Powergrid’s everyday business activities;
    • improving the way we present, purchase and structure network data;
    • using analytics and machine learning to deliver high-quality and detailed data;
    • refining power-flow models to supplement forecasting and future scenario modelling, such as the distribution future energy scenarios report (DFES) to improve network planning and offer better operational insights;v
    • creating a customer flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network offering that will enable us to automatically dispatch flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network services by integrating network systems with our flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network platform; and
    • enhancing our active network management (ANM) coordination and control to manage thermal, voltage and fault level constraints.vi

Benefits:

  • enhanced processes and systems for network operations;
  • increased data quantity, quality, accuracy and availability;
  • consolidated network data to make all information accessible from a single point;
  • improved network knowledge and forecasting;
  • improved flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network services and increased network flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network;
  • increased network capacity and reliability; and
  • more dynamic and robust regional planning.

i DNOs own, operate and maintain the electricity distribution networks. They do not sell electricity to consumers; this is done by the electricity suppliers. There are 14 licensed DNOs in Britain, and each is responsible for a regional distribution services area.

ii DSOs securely operate and develop an active distribution system comprising networks, demand, generation and other flexible distributed energy resources (DER). As a neutral facilitator of an open and accessible market it will enable competitive access to markets and the optimal use of DER on distribution networks to deliver security, sustainability and affordability in the support of whole-system optimisation. A DSO enables customers to be both producers and consumers, enabling customer access to networks and markets, customer choice and great customer service.

iii FlexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network is the ability to increase or decrease the production or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers.

iv LAEP is a key technique to inform, shape and enable key aspects of the transition to a net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing carbon energy system. It can underpin specific proposals to upgrade local energy networks to enable decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods in line with local objectives. Done well and consistently across many localities, LAEP can inform sharper, more effective and better-targeted national policies.

v DFES is an annual report that uses regional data to show the potential pathways that could secure regional net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing by 2050. The DFES maps local data to forecast electric vehicle and heat pump numbers, expected energy demand capacity and energy supply capabilities in the region.

vi ANM is a way we manage the network proactively to balance supply and demand. This is usually done to keep system parameters (voltage, power, phase balance, reactive power and frequency) within predetermined limits and can help us run the system in a cheaper way for customers.

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