The move from large centralised generation plant to distributed local generation solutions has enabled a number of new possibilities, moreover,  the ability for one system operator to have control over all generation capability is significantly challenged. Balancing supply and demand at a macro level was relatively straightforward with tens of generation sources. Such an activity in the highly distributed world of today, which is destined to be more distributed in the future, is not quite as straightforward task. When you add to this mix, the ability of a connected customer or producer to have choice over what they do, or indeed the introduction of storage or aggregation services the level of complexity increases significantly again.

The case in the UK is progressively being made for a DSO environment, primarily to enable local supply/demand balance and perhaps the provision of ancillary services with a view to a better managed and customer/producer (prosumer) experience. To enable such a change it is suggest an adjustment to primary legislation would be an important first step to enable the DSO environment. Such a move would need to enable duality of responsibility at a certain level between the TSO and the new emerging DSO. This duality is thought to be important and could be covered by appropriate bilateral agreements between the TSO and DSO enabling necessary instruction flow in the event of a nationwide scenario developing and requiring immediate coordinated DSO action. Such a proposition, however, does beg the important question of what constitutes a DSO.

–  Does the DSO operate nationally across the UK?

–  Does the DSO operate independently to existing DNO licenced territories but be contiguous with the licenced territory.

–  Should the DSO be part of the DNO’s responsibilities within the licensed territory.

–  Should the DSO be sub-licenced by a DNO based DSO such that perhaps street level, community level city level or network bound DSO’s could be established.

The premise of establishing a DSO is fundamentally based on the principle of where does supply/demand balance occur.

Some suggested important potential steps are suggested here;

– Enabling DSO primary legislation for existing DNO territories to be managed as a DSO, either in whole or in part.

– DSO’s as above should have the capability to define DSO zones in appropriate network bound areas, such DSO zones could be managed by the DNO led DSO directly, or where appropriate by an independent street, town community, network bound DSO. The DNO organisation will enable such independent DSO’s where they are requested by an appropriate requesting  organisation. DNO’s becoming DSO’s should be incentivised to enable sub licenced DSO’s.

This step of empowering the existing DNO licence to be the master DSO agent in a licensed territory is geared to ensuring a robust and programmatic approach is undertaken to the evolution of DSO models, which can progressively change through time and experience. It also enables the DNO to have access to a range of efficient, non-firm connection agreements positioned to manage constraints in the network, whilst at the same time avoiding otherwise necessary expenditure.

More thought to come in future posts.


Since posting some earlier articles on this topic, it’s encouraging to see SPEN have issued a consultation document on their DSO vision. This can be accessed through this link: