Open Networks Project launches Community Energy Forums to build an all-inclusive energy system


The Open Networks Project’s commitment to building an all-inclusive energy system reached a new milestone today as the project announced a series of ‘Community Energy Forums’ to be held throughout 2020.

Announced at the Community Energy England Conference, which was jointly hosted and sponsored by Energy Networks Association and ahead of the Community Energy Awards at City Hall, the forums will give community groups a dedicated place to speak directly with project representatives to provide input Open Networks’ public consultations, as well as discuss other issues relevant to Community groups such as connections. 

The commitment to these forums will see events held around the country throughout 2020 at key points for the project, such as during public consultation periods. Community energy groups and projects are vital in the transition to a low-carbon energy network and meeting the Government’s ambitious Net Zero target. Holding forums to hear community energy perspectives will lend real momentum to the networks’ decarbonisation plans.

In July this year, Britain’s Distribution Network Operators (DNOs), National Grid TO and ESO, and independent DNO (iDNO) GTC, signed up to ENAs Our six steps for delivering flexibility services, a commitment to opening up markets for flexibility services, and make connecting to the grid as smooth and transparent as possible. The heart of the commitment sees the networks champion a level playing field, as well as providing a clear, open, and transparent customer journey through providing flexibility services.

With a third of Britain’s electricity now being generated from renewable sources that have been connected to energy networks, Britain has become a powerhouse of renewable energy. The Open Networks Project is seeking to build on this progress and reach Net Zero as quickly as possible by expanding local markets for flexibility services, of which community energy is a key player in helping to reach this target. The forums announced today will provide community groups with the opportunity to highlight the challenges they face directly to the Open Networks Project and help to understand better how to get more of these vital resources involved in local flexibility markets. 

The decarbonised energy future is as much local as it is national, and network companies are already working with local homes, businesses, and communities to ensure a lower cost, resilient, zero carbon energy system that leaves nobody behind. The new forums will provide a further chance for these key stakeholder groups to be a part of Britain’s vital energy transition to a smart grid. 

Commenting on the announcement, David Smith, Chief Executive, ENA, said:

“Working closer with community energy partners will be helpful for the Open Networks Project, useful for community energy groups and good for the public as we look to build a Net Zero energy system fit for the future.

“This new formal commitment to further integrate community energy into the Project will help the vital work to decarbonise and decentralise our networks while improving the access that community groups have to the energy networks.”

Emma Bridge, Chief Executive, Community Energy England, added:

“Community energy organisations across the UK are exploring new ways to accelerate the transition to a fair, sustainable, smart and net zero energy system. These new Community Energy Forums will provide a meaningful and straight forward way for communities to contribute to the decarbonisation plans for the networks and to highlight opportunities for increasing local engagement and impact by community energy projects.”