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Western Power Distribution (WPD) has unveiled how it plans to transition to a distribution system operator to adapt to the changing demands of the UK’s power market.
The company plans to spend £125 million to facillitate this transition. It will expand its service offering and incorporate areas such as flexibility services procurement, grid resilience improvements and drive greater network efficiency.

Western Power Distribution will focus its work in five key areas including data integrity, market integration, IT systems, custom propositions and equipment.

According to Clean Energy News, the new areas of work will be rolled out between now and 2023, with WPD expecting a one-off cost of around £75 million to the company. These costs are expected to rise to between £100 and £125 million once recurring costs such as licenses and new employees required to facilitate the transition are taken into account.

The company told Clean Energy News that its transition to a DSO was vital to local power networks and without the change in its mandate, “very substantial investments” in the grid would be required.

Western Power Distribution has already established a £7.1 billion grid investment programme for between 2015 and 2023, the success of which so far has seen it boost a local grid originally designed to manage 14GW of generation to nearly 21GW.

WPD planned a series of projects, including the rollout of Active Management Zones, taking a more hands-on approach to network management.

The company has highlighted electric vehicles as being one such source of new electricity demand. The UK government has identified EVs as a potential boom industry for the country however there remain concerns about the grid’s capabilities to handle such a boom. [Think tank finds UK networks ill-prepared for surge in EVs and solar]

Redefining the role of the DSO

In related news, Energy Network Association's Open Networks Project has formally set out how the role of local electricity networks will change as the UK’s smart energy grid becomes a reality.

The Open Networks Project, is a major initiative that is in the process of re-defining how our energy networks will operate in the future as we head into a new smart era.

In a release, the association said,"The changes [that Open Networks Project] will make will give the UK’s households, businesses and communities the ability to take advantage of a new range of energy technologies and services to take control of their energy and lower their costs, including renewable generation, battery storage and electric vehicles." Read more...