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Distribution system operation – the key to a smart, flexible electricity system

We’ve launched our distribution system operation (DSO) consultation, introducing our proposed approach to supporting the DSO transition. Whole Electricity System senior manager, Andy Wainwright, explains how it’ll help us achieve a smarter energy system.

As Britain’s electricity system operator (ESO), we’re right at the heart of efforts to transform the way our energy networks operate.

That journey to an energy system fit for the future wouldn’t be possible without the close collaboration that’s happening with industry partners to help the transition to distribution system operation.

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What is distribution system operation? It means the distribution network operators (DNOs) – who currently deliver electricity from the grid to homes and businesses – taking on more of a system operator role at a regional level. It also means all industry participants taking a more coordinated, whole system approach to the planning and operation of Britain’s networks – key to a smarter energy system, more efficient flexibility markets and to achieving net zero.

As the electricity network evolves, the traditional roles and responsibilities in the industry – particularly of distribution network operators (DNOs) – will change.

DNOs will have a significant role in managing the network at a local level, and making sure regional service providers can support the delivery of an efficient and resilient system.

Whilst ESO does not have an ambition to be a distribution system operator, the DSO transition will affect us too. We will need to evolve to facilitate the transition to net zero at the least cost to the consumer.

Today we’ve published Enabling the DSO transition, a consultation which shares our proposed approach for how we can support the DSO transition and our draft 2025 vision of a successful outcome.

Read our DSO transition consultation

Strong collaboration across industry will be pivotal to the success of the DSO transition, so we’re inviting you – our stakeholders – to provide feedback by May 21.

You can register here for our DSO transition webinar on May 6 (14:30–15:30). You will have the opportunity to hear from ESO colleagues and ask questions on the approach and vision.

We’re aiming to build on the fantastic collaborative work already underway to support the DSO transition, for example through forums such as the ENA’s Open Networks project and trail blazing initiatives such as the Regional Development Programmes (RDPs).

These projects are developing new ways to get zero carbon generation connected as quickly and efficiently as possible, as well as opening up new revenue streams for market participants.

Discover how one of our RDPs is unlocking Britain's renewable energy potential on the south coast

You can find out more by reading our RDP factsheet which has been produced jointly with all  DNOs in Great Britain.

Our consultation and RDPs are just a couple of ways we’re actively supporting DSO transition. We will build on your feedback to inform how we can help the transformation of Great Britain’s electricity system and continue to deliver reliable, affordable energy for consumers.