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Shaping the electricity network of the future

Posted on 17 July 2017 11:07 AM by alli01s

Imagine a world where communities don’t just generate their own electricity, but they choose to support the local day-care centre by donating their surplus energy at peak time to help the centre reduce their costs. Or where instead of charging your car when you get home, you use the electricity in its battery to power your home during the early evening peak hours.

This world is not some future dream, it’s here. The UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy is revolutionising the way we generate, distribute, and consume electricity, with radical changes driven by technological, economic, and environmental factors. We all have a role to play in shaping this future.

Customers are embracing these changes and their needs and expectations of the electricity system are changing as more buy electric cars, use smart appliances in their homes and generate, store, and sell their own electricity.

The move to this new world will have profound implications for the energy industry. UK Power Networks is no different. We already embrace an industry-leading approach to innovation, but we must continue to evolve and adapt to serve the needs of our customers in a time of profound technological change.

To meet the challenges of the future, UK Power Networks is transforming from a Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to a Distribution System Operator (DSO). This means that we are moving from our traditional role as the passive manager of the network, to providing active services which enable people, communities and business to benefit from new technologies, whilst continuing to provide safe, reliable services for all customers.  

Our plan for the future is outlined in our report ‘Future Smart’, available via the link below, which sets out how UK Power Networks will enable new developments in the energy landscape. Our vision proposes radical changes to the role of network operators, and calls for Government and industry to work together to deliver a smarter energy system which enables communities and consumers to benefit fully from new technologies, while keeping the lights on.

We are on the verge of a change as significant for electricity as the advent of broadband was for telecommunications. When broadband was introduced no one talked about Netflix or Facebook or Uber. Changing to DSO is our broadband. We know some of the technologies – electric vehicles, heat pumps, smart meters – but there will be others we don’t yet know about. The flexibility of DSO will enable those technologies to develop and flourish.

It is more important than ever that we listen, collaborate, and share findings across the industry. We therefore invite you to take part in our consultation which will help us plan for the future, and ensure we continue to meet the needs and expectations of all our stakeholders. This is available at




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