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Distribution System Operator

To start to address the changes we see as being critical to the future, in October 2016 we were the first in our industry to publish a Distribution System Operation Vision. This described the whole system operating model which we think is best suited to address these changes, and the roles and responsibilities which it involves.

Since then, the changes have increased and the challenges intensified. The magnitude of these changes means there is a clear need for a set of roles, activities and infrastructure to meet our customers’ evolving needs, delivering net zero, and ensure the continued safe, reliable and efficient operation of the distribution network and wider energy system for all customers.

We’ve already started delivering many of these DSO roles and activities. There is still some way to go, but we’re ready for this journey.

Building on this Vision and the extensive work we have done since, we have now updated our DSO Strategy.

This details the exact roles, activities and infrastructure we see as necessary from now through to the end of RIIO-ED2 (2028), to delivering this vital development for the GB electricity system.

Our DSO Strategy - July 2021

In October 2016, we were the first in our industry to publish a Distribution System
Operation (DSO) Vision in response to evolving customer needs and system challenges.

This described the whole system operating model which we think is best suited to address these changes, and the roles and responsibilities which this involves. Since then, we have worked alongside industry, government, and our customers, through the Open Networks project and other routes, to progress this evolution in the GB energy system.

Our DSO Strategy document, first published in June 2020 and now updated alongside our RIIO-ED2 Business Plan,builds on this work.

Download a copy of our updated DSO Strategy

What is a Distribution System Operator (DSO)?

The magnitude of these changes means there is a clear need for a set of roles and activities to meet our customers’ evolving needs, deliver Net Zero, and ensure the continued safe, reliable, and efficient operation of the distribution network and wider energy system for all customers. Most of these roles and activities are evolutions of existing business-as-usual activities, whilst others are new. These roles and activities in turn require new supporting infrastructure.

This is what Distribution System Operation (DSO) is to us: the set of roles, activities, and infrastructure that we plan to deliver, so that we can continue to serve our customers and communities. They include more complex planning solutions, smarter and scalable network operation infrastructure, being a neutral facilitator of an open and accessible distribution energy resources (DER) services market, and coordinating DER services to deliver a safe, efficient, and reliable whole system. These must be delivered at a pace that meets our customers’ needs.

Our energy landscape

Our energy landscape is continually changing, and the needs of our customers and communities constantly evolving.

To tackle the climate emergency and deliver Net Zero carbon targets, a significant proportion of transport and heating will be electrified. We are also going to see a further leap in renewable generation capacity as fossil fuel power stations close, and experience more dynamic and complex power flows as customers become increasingly active participants in the energy system.

The Changing Energy Landscape

If we do not continue to adapt to meet these changes and our customers’ evolving needs, these developments will push the distribution network and wider system beyond what it is currently designed for and adversely impact our customers. 


You can also read more on some of our specific DSO activities via the following pages:

 

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