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ETYS 2019 Cover

A message from ESO Director Fintan Slye

As the Electricity System Operator (ESO) for Great Britain we have a clear mission - ensuring that supply and demand are balanced in real time, second-by-second.

In April 2019 we became a legally separate business within the wider National Grid Group to remove any perceived conflicts of interest and offer greater transparency. At the same time, we began our journey as a separate entity by announcing our ambition of being able to operate a zero-carbon electricity system by 2025. Since then we have begun readying the grid for zero carbon and we are making great progress towards our goal. A record number of coal free days and the highest ever levels of solar and wind generation mean 2019 is set to be the greenest year on record.

Following legal separation, internally within the National Grid Group, we retained a single “system operator” structure, comprising the gas system operator and electricity system operator. This was to better enable a whole system perspective whilst operating within, and observing the strict parameters of, ESO legal separation. This nuance of our structure is not something many people outside National Grid or the energy industry would have been aware of and, regardless of any structure, our focus always remains the same, keeping the lights and gas flowing.

Since April 1st, and like any business, we, along with National Grid Group have been monitoring and reviewing the new model and it has now become clear that an internally unified gas system operator and gas transmission structure is a better way of organising the gas business. The Gas System Operator is now being integrated with the Gas Transmission Entity of National Grid UK to realign the licenced gas businesses under a single functional entity – National Grid Gas Transmission. This means that all our teams in Gas Transmission can plan effectively for the gas networks of the future – offering closer coordination between gas system operation and gas asset management, and ultimately delivering better value for our customers.

This change is not about cost savings, there are no proposed redundancies or reductions in headcount. For the ESO, whole system thinking will still play a vital role, particularly as we transition to a greener and cleaner energy system and we will continue to collaborate with our gas system operations colleagues. Our flagship Whole System publications, such as the Future Energy Scenarios, are already delivered by the ESO and this will continue under the new arrangements.

As you may have seen we have now also submitted our updated Business Plan for RIIO-2. We strongly feel that by simplifying our internal structure we will be better prepared for the RIIO-2 period.