ElectraLink has signed a contract with National Grid which gives the Electricity System Operator (ESO) visibility of renewable generation within distribution networks. This could be a key development in moving towards a Distribution System Operator (DSO) model. The ‘long-awaited’ agreement underlines the need for industry to press for reform to adapt to a changing business environment.
Data Sharing is Critical
As energy flows change, the need for greater visibility and transfer of data is critical to constructing a flexible energy system. In its 2018 Summer Outlook National Grid said that the growth of distributed renewables can create operability challenges because they make it more difficult to gauge demand.  Following changes to its data access rules, ElectraLink now provides National Grid with datasets that identify 96 percent of all half hourly exported sites.
Other Innovations are Required
Growing renewables, advances in energy storage technology and increasing numbers of electric vehicles mean that networks need to be more actively managed. Government, Ofgem, National Grid and the Energy Networks Association are all preparing iniatives to manage this transformation. However, this is a complex process and each modification is likely to take time. The agreement between ElectraLink and National Grid took a year to materialise because of data protection regulations.
Engagement Can Support Adaptation
By explaining the benefits of a DSO model and demonstrating the steps it is taking to achieve it the network industry can help develop policy. Securing buy-in from policy makers and regulators will aid organisations as they work towards change.
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 ElectraLink, 21 August 2018, link
 National Grid, Summer Outlook Report 2018, link