Networks operator unveils ‘flexibility first’ plans

A major network operator has unveiled plans to “supercharge” the market for flexibility services and deliver a stronger network by helping to reduce electricity demand during peak times.

UK Power Networks, which operates the power network across London, the South-East and the East of England, is consulting on its “flexibility roadmap”, which it says is the first of its kind in the industry and a “major step-change” in the way networks operate.

The move could also create new markets for distributed generation, such as wind and solar farms and electricity storage.

The firm said flexibility services, such as demand side response and storage, will give it the opportunity to take a more cost-effective approach than providing additional capacity through new cables and substations.

The company estimates that its market for flexibility could top 200MW by 2023.

A study by Imperial College London previously found that deploying flexible services could save customers across the UK between £17 billion and £40bn by 2050.

More renewables

UK Power Networks said that creating markets for distributed generation would increase competition and allow more renewable energy to be connected to the network at a lower cost.

The firm is working with technology firm Piclo, previously known as Open Utility, on its proposals

Examples of flexibility services include batteries storing energy or users turning their demand up or down.

The consultation closes on 8 October and the changes are due to come into effect in 2019.

‘Ambitious’ policy

Barry Hatton, Director of Asset Management at UK Power Networks, said: “We are not just talking about how we’ll manage the future of energy, we’re doing it right here and now.

“Our ambitious flexibility policy is going to drive value for our customers and create an important new market.

“The Flexibility Roadmap proposes a radical rethink to the way we do business, moving away from automatically building new assets and instead giving the distributed energy resources market the opportunity to offer their services.”

> View the roadmap