Seven key policies, including changes to the Ofgem regulatory regime to facilitate "anticipatory investment", would ensure that UK electricity network infrastructure is prepared for net-zero, a report by distribution network operator SSEN has argued.
The publication, Delivering DSO, outlines the progress SSEN has made in its transition from a DNO to a Distribution System Operator (DSO) able to run a smarter flexible electricity network, and how it has invested over £160m under RIIO-ED1 to support its DSO transition.
It also outlines SSEN's commitment to using data to support cost-effective investment decisions.
The report includes seven policy recommendations that the network operator believes are key to enable UK to deliver net zero within the electricity system.
The list is headed by a call for a regulatory change that would allow DNOs to invest in anticipation of demand, such as the reinforcement needed ahead of wider take-up of electric vehicles.
The take into account factors such as distributed supply, changing customer expectations and therefore demand on the network, and increasing use of data.
The policy recommendations are:
1. A clear mechanism that supports anticipatory investment to help electricity networks prepare for net zero.
2. Requirements for new homes to be "EV ready" with appropriate charging infrastructure.
3. Mandating the installation of smart EV charging to ensure infrastructure is being efficiently utilised.
4. Encourage households to adopt flexibility by providing a financial incentive above market value.
5. Improving transparency of anonymised EV-use to support the smooth transition to electrified transport;
6. Improving transparency of Low-Carbon Technology uptake to improve investment decisions; and
7. Adopting a whole-systems approach, with communities taking a leading role in the journey to net zero.
Andrew Roper, director of DSO at SSEN, said: "Action from industry needs to be matched by a supportive and flexible policy environment.
"We believe the seven policy recommendations we have identified will not only help us on our transition, but also create a foundation for delivery of net zero within the electricity system."
In 2017, SSEN published Supporting a Smarter Electricity System which set out the operator's roadmap in the transition to DSO.
The new report details how these principles have been put into practice and are already delivering tangible benefits to customers.
Throughout the transition, projects that SSEN has led include Project Local Energy Oxfordshire (LEO), a comprehensive smart grid trial, and Solent Achieving Value from Efficiency (SAVE) which provides support to community groups trying to provide flexibility to the system.
On data, Roper said: "To ensure the nation's electricity networks keep pace with the net zero transition, it's clear to me that data will be the ‘killer app'. This means the ability to access to real-time, transparent, data on the low carbon technologies connecting to our networks and in the use of rich analytics and projections to make a robust case for strategic investment for net zero."