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Responding to the spread of coronavirus - Message from our Managing Director

Delivering zero-carbon system operation by 2025

David Bowman, Regulatory Analyst for National Grid's Electricity System Operator (ESO) explains the actions they are taking to create a more sustainable, zero-carbon grid.

The time to act on climate change is now. The energy industry is tackling this challenge head on with a large range of distributed energy solutions, software services and expertise. The decarbonisation of the electricity that powers our homes and businesses is well underway.

To take the next step and truly create the energy system of the future, partnerships across the energy industry, businesses and government are required. Which is why National Grid are leading the way with an ambition to operate a 100% carbon free grid by 2025.

RIIO-2 Regulatory Analyst, David Bowman explains the actions National Grid are taking to create the zero-carbon grid of tomorrow:

Climate change is the challenge of a generation. Working together, the energy industry has made great strides towards decarbonisation. In May, electricity generation was coal-free for over two weeks. But we must do more to reach 2050 targets.

The ESO sits at the heart of our energy system and we have a crucial role to play in enabling this. In April, we announced our ambition to be able to operate a zero-carbon electricity system by 2025. This means that if the market can economically and efficiently meet all demand for energy and balancing services with zero-carbon solutions, then the ESO will operate the system at zero-carbon.

This is a big undertaking, and involves solving complex issues such as stability, thermal constraints, voltage management and response and reserve, as outlined in our Operability Strategy Report. Our 2019-21 Forward Plan and recently published draft RIIO-2 business plan, co-created with stakeholders, outline how we will achieve this. 

Smart Markets

To ensure a level playing field for low-carbon technologies we will consolidate existing markets, open new ones and develop a single, integrated portal for all ESO markets. We will transform access to the Capacity Market to ensure security of supply with a plant mix that supports decarbonisation at the lowest possible cost.

Control Systems

To enable the flexibility that new markets will provide, we need to upgrade our control systems to handle thousands of new market participants. We will design and develop new control systems in an agile and modular way offline from the current control room in a digital twin environment. To ensure we develop the right capabilities, we’ll do this with stakeholders in a cross-industry design group.

Whole system thinking

To drive the transition to a low-carbon future, we need to take a whole system view. We are well placed to lead the debate on industry decarbonisation and setting a path for zero-carbon, and whole system operability. We’ll work closely with industry on transformative code changes, the connection process and developing whole system approaches to network access.

Work with us

We are seeking your feedback on our draft RIIO-2 business plan, before publishing an updated version in October and our final plan in December. We need your help to ensure that the activities we propose deliver on our ambition.  Please take a read on our draft plan and let us know your thoughts by emailing


How Centrica Business Solutions can help

Centrica Business Solutions' is already supporting National Grid, businesses and public sector organisation build a more flexible and sustainable energy system. Our customers have access to industry leading software, AI and energy sensor technology that increases available flexible energy, improves efficiency and maximises cost savings and revenue generation.