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Smart electricity markets and power grids - policy priorities and next steps

Morning, Friday, 3rd September 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine next steps and policy priorities for smart electricity markets and power grids in the UK.

The agenda is being structured to bring out latest thinking on:

  • infrastructure priorities for enabling the smart energy transition
  • next steps for the use of smart data, and priorities for the Energy Data Strategy due later this year
  • regulatory priorities to encourage innovation and enable adoption
  • developing smart energy markets for consumers and suppliers

the conference will also be an opportunity to discuss a range of key policy developments affecting key stakeholders, including:

  • the Energy White Paper:
    • outlining the Government’s long-term strategy for developing the energy system
    • with consultations due for publication this year that are relevant to smart energy
  • a new Smart Systems Plan being published in 2021:
    • expected to address emerging challenges and priorities for meeting new net-zero commitments
    • building on the foundations of the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan
  • the UK’s first Energy Data Strategy - which aims to develop a clear vision for how the data provided by different energy technologies in the UK can be harnessed and used to improve efficiencies and smart-led solutions

We are pleased to include a keynote session on the long-term policy needs for smart energy development from Emily Revess, Head of Strategic Delivery, Smart Energy, BEIS. There will be further contributions from Laura Sandys, Former Chair, Government’s Energy Data Taskforce and Chair, Challenging Ideas; and Dr Chris Pateman-Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Connected Kerb; as well as from ElectraLink; E.ON; and Smart DCC.

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from BEIS; DIT; the Department for the Economy, NI; DfT; HSE; and the Welsh Government.

The agenda:

  • UK Government priorities for the next phase of Smart Systems and Flexibility policy and digitalising our energy system
  • Working towards the Energy Data Strategy, ensuring scope enables industry modernisation, and latest thinking on infrastructure needs for the smart energy transition
    • Modernising the transmission grid and duties of the System Operator - increasing the scope and use of market signals, forecasting capabilities, and managing grid constraints
    • Tackling barriers to clean energy integration and intermittency issues - simplifying connection rules and optimising the network for low-carbon and flexible assets
    • The way forward for fully utilising grid balancing - widening access to advanced energy data, demand side response, and smoother trading
    • Connecting electric vehicles and unlocking non-generation assets - widening grid flexibility and smart-led whole-system management
    • Next steps for the use of smart data - expanding how data is gathered, applied to energy services, and used to optimise operations
  • Establishing a regulatory framework that can facilitate smart-led energy innovation, and enable low-cost and low-barrier adoption
  • Developing smart energy markets for suppliers and consumers - modernising entry rules, delivering smart tariffs and increased competition, and enabling households to benefit from new preferences and energy management options

A scan of relevant developments:

  • the Energy White Paper - outlining the Government’s long-term strategy for developing the energy system, with:
    • goals around preparing the sector for net-zero, commercialising new technology, and transitioning the system to a smart and digital energy network
    • plans for:
      • a call for evidence on next steps for reinforcing fairness and marketplace value for consumers, and consulting with government, industry and consumer groups
      • a review into market frameworks, how barriers to innovative and smart energy solutions can be reduced, and boosting consumer choice and market competition
      • consultation on the scope for increasing regulation around third-party brokers and energy comparison sites that operate within the digital energy space
      • a review on designing flexible and more consumer-conscious tariffs, including options for opt-in and opt-out auto tariff switching, and giving consumers control over auto-renewals
  • the Smart Systems Plan :
    • outlined in the Energy White Paper, and expected to be published this year
    • the Plan builds off the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan published in 2017, and aims to establish further measures for reaching goals around:
      • electricity market flexibility
      • monitoring progress on barriers to technological, household and market upgrades for smart systems
  • the UK’s first Energy Data Strategy:
    • publication of the strategy is anticipated later this year
    • aimed at a clear vision for how data provided by different energy technologies can be harnessed and used across markets and infrastructure to improve efficiencies and smart-led solutions
  • the Energy Networks Codes Review:
    • currently being conducted by the Government and Ofgem
    • the Review is looking at how reform to code frameworks can increase simplification and reduce entry barriers to suppliers, market stakeholders and smart services
  • RIIO-2 Determinations for Electricity Systems - with this price control period established up to 2026, projects earmarked for investment include:
    • modernising network infrastructure for smart technology
    • the integration of clean energy
    • lowering consumer bills through lower regulated electricity fees

Key areas for discussion:
Next steps for developing a stable and effective policy framework for smart energy:

  • policy priorities - assessing what is needed for long-term policy ambitions to support industry stakeholders in the transition
  • the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan - evaluating progress on key parts of the plan, and what is needed to maximise the value of the forthcoming Smart Systems Plan, including:
    • objectives that still have not been met
    • options for overcoming practical barriers to delivery
    • how new policy design can capture smart energy benefits and opportunities
  • overcoming obstacles - identifying challenges to smart system development and how they can be overcome, including:
    • ensuring networks become technologically agnostic
    • maximising the potential of all grid-connected energy stakeholders
    • priorities for facing net-zero goals through digitised system management
  • priorities for regulation - what is needed to support smart-led energy innovation, such as:
    • modernising code and legislative rules
    • enabling market entry for new business models
    • tackling cost and charging rates that inhibit smart service expansion

Smart energy markets in the UK enabling smart and modern benefits for consumers and services:

  • smart-led energy retail - fine-tuning market arrangements, as well as:
    • delivering effective reform to supplier licensing rules
    • enabling market competition and service innovation
    • steps for translating smart-enabled efficiency into lower consumer costs
  • smart energy tariffs - identifying opportunities they present for greater consumer benefits, including:
    • pairing with household smart technologies
    • aligning choice with changing consumer behaviours
    • further measures needed for making switching easier
  • smart households - priorities for enabling smart households to increasingly benefit from a digital energy system, looking at:
    • options for making generation and non-generation asset holders prosumers
    • further unlocking revenue and cost-saving features for network-connected households

Priorities for delivering whole-system change to the energy system:

  • infrastructure - what is needed for improving infrastructure and system operations through smart data usage
  • grid modernisation - next steps for making power networks an enabler for smart energy, such as:
    • by reducing barriers to grid connection
    • assessing the scope for utilising data for energy forecasting, and addressing grid constraints
  • overcoming challenges - how best to tackle obstacles to balancing intermittent renewables, looking at:
    • options for grid management at a local level
    • simplifying connection rules
    • improving system efficiency through weather mapping
  • network flexibility - maximising the potential of network flexibility and capabilities for grid balancing, by:
    • enhancing the use of Demand Side Response across energy industry stakeholders
    • smoothing over whole-system capacity management
    • optimising services through energy data

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons Library, and officials from BEIS; Defra; the Department for International Trade; the Department for the Economy, NI; the Department for Transport; the Health and Safety Executive; The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy,  as well as from other stakeholders in the UK energy sector including energy providers and their consultants, construction and engineering groups, community cooperatives, clean tech companies, funding and investment bodies, telecommunications groups, specialist law firms, social enterprises, consumer groups, local government, urban and city planners, as well as researchers in academia and higher education, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Emily Revess

Head of Strategic Delivery, Smart Energy, BEIS

Keynote Speaker

Emily Revess

Head of Strategic Delivery, Smart Energy, BEIS


Dr Chris Pateman-Jones

Chief Executive Officer, Connected Kerb

Laura Sandys

Former Chair, Government’s Energy Data Taskforce and Chair, Challenging Ideas

Matt James

Business Development Manager, Smart DCC

Matthew Cullen

Policy Manager, E.ON

Dan Hopkinson

Acting Chief Executive Officer, ElectraLink