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Powering the North West's future

Powering the North West's future

The traditional passive ‘top down’ model, where electricity flows from large power plants, via the national transmission system, to our distribution network and on to homes and businesses, is being redefined as we move from a Distribution Network Operator to a Distribution System Operator.

The challenge

The UK is committed to delivering ambitious targets for reductions in carbon emissions and the importance of these targets has created local, regional, national and international momentum and innovation to meet and exceed these targets.

New technology is changing the way that companies, communities and customers generate, distribute and consume energy. The application of information and communication technology to existing electricity networks is transforming them into increasingly smart energy systems.

Adoption of electric vehicles, solar generation and battery storage isn’t just advantageous but essential. As well as significantly contributing to achieving low carbon targets, these smart energy systems allow people to participate in energy markets in new ways and to share the rewards of this transformation.

From Distribution Network Operator to Distribution System Operator

It’s essential that the policy environment is positive and enables all participants to bring their skills and talents together to enable the UK to meet its low carbon targets in an innovative, inclusive and efficient way. In future, Distribution Network Operators, like Electricity North West, will have a unique role to play as Distribution Systems Operators, both enablers and participants in creating open markets which enable early adoption and implementation of new technologies and commercial opportunities.


These changes present huge potential economic, environmental and social opportunities – as well as great challenges and disruption to the 'business as usual' status quo.

If you are interested in finding out more about our Distribution System Operator work please email us.

Transitioning to a Distribution System Operator- a collaborative approach

This document 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. It outline what we see as the key roles and responsibilities of a DSO and is informed by the views and expectations of our stakeholders.

As we transition from a Distribution Network Operator to a Distribution System Operator we will actively engage with our stakeholders. Your feedback will shape our thinking as we develop services that will enable the North West to prosper as it moves towards a low carbon future.

In early 2017 we published an evidence paper ‘The Vital Role for Distribution System Operators’ which set out the challenges and opportunities with the UK’s transition to a smart flexible energy system.

In December 2017 we hosted 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 event was a mixture of presentations, an interactive question and answer panel and roundtable discussions. Over 60 stakeholders who attended heard presentations from Electricity North West, Carbon Co-op, Regen, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Energy Networks Association.

Presentations from the event are available below along with our Distribution System Operator report. 

Key documents from 'Shaping the future of your energy network' event