Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

UK Power Networks reveals smart energy vision

Steve Rogerson
August 1, 2017

Britain’s largest electricity distributor UK Power Networks has announced plans to let every customer have electric cars and smart appliances, and generate, store and sell their own electricity.
It hopes that communities, people and businesses will benefit from the transformation of the business, laid out in a strategy consultation paper outlining its vision for the future of the network
The distributor delivers electricity to London, the east and south east of England. Its vision is to create an electricity network that empowers and enables communities and consumers to benefit from the new technologies available, and facilitate the development of those yet to come.
In the coming years, more and more people will own electric and driverless cars, use smart appliances in their homes, and generate, store and sell their own electricity. UK Power Networks says it is setting out how it will enable people, communities and business to benefit from such technologies, while continuing to provide safe, reliable services for all customers.
The business plans to transform from being a distribution network operator (DNO) that simply manages the network, to become a distribution system operator (DSO), which enables a smart, flexible system that responds to customers’ needs.
The consultation paper proposes radical changes to enable electricity networks to keep up with the needs and expectations of consumers, and outlines how people and their use of new technologies will be at the heart of the new electricity system. It has launched the consultation at a time when the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy is changing electricity production, distribution and consumption.
“We are on the verge of a change as significant for electricity as the advent of broadband was for telecommunications,” said Basil Scarsella, CEO of UK Power Networks. “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. We’re doing the work now to make this exciting future possible.”
During the transition to being a DSO, UK Power Networks will continue to maintain the safety and reliability of its electricity networks while managing the increased complexity driven by the distributed energy connected to its networks.
Scarsella is also chairman of the Energy Networks Association, and the chief executive David Smith said: “The move from traditional distribution network operators to more active and empowered distribution system operators, with far greater capabilities to manage local electricity grids, is a major transition for our networks. Developing a DSO strategy is a significant step forward to delivering the smart grid, and will present a whole new host of new opportunities for energy networks and consumers. Through the Open Networks Project, the networks and the system operator will work together to ensure that they facilitate new technology and services, invest in the most efficient way possible and keep our lights on while keeping down costs as we transition to a low carbon economy.”