Distribution system operation (DSO)

Distribution system operation

Find out about our transition to ‘distribution system operation’ (DSO) – the systems and processes needed to operate energy networks in the net zero carbon future.

In response to the climate emergency, the UK has become the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by bringing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. Here in the North West, we are supporting our stakeholders’ desires to go further and faster than the national target and deliver net zero even sooner.

As we decarbonise we forecast that demand for electricity will double as customers adopt cleaner, greener forms of transport and heating. As well as an increase in demand, we expect to see more and more customers connecting their own generation to our network such as solar panels and wind turbines; all of this will have a dramatic effect on the existing electricity infrastructure.

Network operators like Electricity North West will play a key role in this transformation. It’s our responsibility to provide a smart and flexible electricity distribution system which will meet the evolving needs of customers and support the region’s economic development.

Our three strategy documents describe the progress we have made and set out the next steps we are taking on the transition to ‘distribution system operation’ (DSO).

In summer 2020 we invited our customers and wider stakeholders to review and comment on these documents – our DSO strategy, Analysis of DSO functions and our Grid digitalisation & data strategy – to understand your expectations and gain your feedback on our approach. The feedback obtained during the consultation has now been incorporated into the latest versions of the documents published in spring 2021. Thank you for your input.

If you have any further comments on the documents please contact us.

DSO strategy documents

Our DSO video - The new world of electricity

Previous DSO documents

In 2017 we published an evidence paper ‘The vital role for distribution system operators’ which sets out the challenges and opportunities with the UK’s transition to a smart flexible energy system.

This was followed by a one day interactive stakeholder event ‘Shaping the future of your energy network’ in collaboration with Carbon Co-op where we asked our stakeholders to help us shape our thinking and plans regarding the future of the energy system. The presentations from this event can be found below.

In 2018 we published 'Transitioning to a distribution system operator - a collaborative approach' which describes our vision of how Electricity North West can support North West people, businesses and energy producers in meeting the challenge of de-carbonising energy.