Delivering future system functionality through enabling frameworks – by Sacha Meckler
To meet the needs of energy customers in the future, the current power system needs to change. A new concept called Enabling Frameworks is a step towards that outcome.
By Sacha Meckler
The Future Power Systems Architecture programme has defined the changes that are required using 35 functions which have been further developed by FPSA2 and embody the new elements to the power system architecture. These new functions have a range of needs and numerous impediments need to be resolved to enable implementation. These needs and barriers can be addressed by establishing Enabling Frameworks (EF) – an agile, inclusive and time-sensitive process that would deliver the currently identified functions and any future (currently unknown) functions required.
The proposed Enabling Frameworks (EF), and process around the creation of EF, has drawn from best practices and proven processes from other sectors as well as building on the exceptional experience already produced in the electricity sector. EF are the way in which the needs of a function would be met, and also the vehicle which enables the function to overcome barriers that prevent its implementation. Barriers arise typically where current sector mechanisms are no longer fit for purpose in a world where change is becoming more rapid and there are many new stakeholders, many of whom operate ‘beyond the meter’.
The EF assembly process, which defines how an EF would be created for each function, has been developed to effectively and efficiently address the particular needs and barriers of each function or group of functions. The main elements of the EF are the capabilities and mechanisms by which new functionality is implemented, including needs assessments, consultations, options appraisals, implementation plans, testing and final delivery into the live system.
In the development of the architecture for EF, the teams have drawn from input and learning from within the electricity sector as well as other sectors, in the UK and across the globe. The guiding principles that have embodied this development have been adopted to reflect the views of industry stakeholders and best practice based on the challenges that the energy system of the future will face. This includes an integrated and central role for stakeholders in the process, and as there are likely to be a greater number of stakeholders it will also be necessary to have enhanced co-ordination and facilitation capabilities. Transparency and visibility will be necessary in such an environment as will preparedness to be able to facilitate resolution of conflicting views.
To maximise the synergies EF would make use of innovative approaches to accelerate decisions, support change and enable ongoing feedback and iterative improvement of the process. The process would also strive for simplicity at the point of use and to provide consistent and harmonised evaluation of technical and economic aspects related to functions.
The EF would, where possible, streamline its activities where commonality exists and realise resource and timeliness efficiencies, by bringing together information and other resources in a structured manner. It is also clear that some agile organising capability will be required to ensure the necessary EF are created and new functionality delivered on time and in a co-ordinated manner. This capability will take a whole system view, creating a power system architecture for openness, flexibility and competition rather than imposing a command and control approach. It would continually manage interactions and trade-offs between EF and different functions and also leverage the rich and diverse capabilities across the various stakeholder industries.
The EF would critically also support legislated requirements around decarbonisation, ensuring market competition and protecting consumer interests. The EF approach can be tested as part of the FPSA3 work, and they will continue to evolve as they need to be flexible by design, to meet ongoing change and potential new challenges that the future power system is likely to encounter.
More details on the outcomes of this work will be circulated in the summer in the final report and at a number of engagement events.