Northern Power Grid seeks flexibility service providers

Norther Power Grid is inviting expressions of interest from large energy users, distributed generators, aggregators and other providers of flexibility services.

The distribution network operator has launched a fresh call for parties interested in providing flexibility services to come forward. Flexibility services can involve shifting the time of energy usage (for example in a factory), supporting the local network with generation at short notice, or offering up the ability to charge empty energy storage with excess power. These services are a vital part of local power grid operations and are expected to increase in importance as more renewable energy is used.

The operator recently released its emerging thinking  about its forthcoming business plan for 2023-28 regulatory period (RIIO ED2), in which it outlines the potential for a “flexibility first” approach to meeting the energy needs of its 8 million customers in the region.

The expression of interest call is open to all interested customers on its network who meet a series of criteria, including certain days of the week and months of the year when support is most likely to be needed. The call out seeks responses from customers in certain locations that can change their energy consumption or generation patterns in response to signals from Northern Powergrid.

Jim Cardwell, Head of Policy Development at Northern Powergrid, commented: “The Government’s recent Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution re-affirms that the way we generate, consume and manage power will continue to change as we decarbonise society. As we respond to the climate emergency, our stakeholders are endorsing our lead role in reducing carbon emissions in our region.

“The need for flexibility is expected to grow as everything from electric cars to renewable generation changes our consumption habits and energy needs. Supporting our local area to reach net zero is a huge part of our current business planning activity and assessing the benefits of customer-driven network flexibility is at the very heart of that. We are testing the market and urge potential customers to come forward and see what role they can play in a zero-carbon future.”

Currently, following analysis of feasible energy growth scenarios, Northern Powergrid is indicating needs for up to 19MW of flexibility services across the following areas. The aim of building flexible power grid management into these sites is to increase resilience, drive down costs and accelerate the move to a cleaner, more efficient power network.

•    Doncaster
•    Goole
•    Harrogate
•    Heckmondwike
•    Knottingley
•    Leeds
•    Malton
•    Middlesbrough
•    Scunthorpe
•    Sheffield
•    Whitley Bay
•    York

By expressing interest, businesses, generators or other customers with distributed energy resources (including storage operators and commercial aggregators) across the high and low voltage network in these areas will help Northern Powergrid to assess the current and future potential for customer flexibility. This understanding will help Northern Powergrid to develop its future plans and forecast the level of customer and network solutions required to manage load growth from new low carbon use of the network.

The insight gained from these areas will also be used by Northern Powergrid to inform forecasts of customer flexibility across its wider region – particularly expectations of how much flexibility may be sourced on the low voltage local network. The charging of electric vehicles in particular is likely to lead to new uses of flexibility to manage the network at this local level. The locations for this use of flexibility will depend on how the roll-out of electric vehicles proceeds.

“Different sites have different requirements such that there is no one size fits all solution,” adds Jim.  “This will steer the types of parties who might want to get involved. For example, in Malton we are looking for flexibility at the weekends, and on Mondays and Tuesday afternoons in December. We might only need to call on our flexibility providers in this area a handful of times a year. Conversely in Scunthorpe we are seeking interest from customers for a much longer timeframe of the year – April to December and this may suit regular, repeat support from generators.”

Asset operators looking to participate in providing flexibility services between 2023-2028 should express interest by emailing  Northern Powergrid will then follow up with the interested parties.

Details of this call for interest can also be found via the Flexible Power website here.

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