Flexitricity launches demand-turn up service to balance excess wind generation


1024px-Whitelee_with_arran_in_the_backgroundDemand response aggregator Flexitricity will pay firms to use more power when there is excess wind generation on the system. The company today announced it has signed a draft service agreement with National Grid for its new Demand Turn Up service.

The Footroom service will go some way towards limiting constraint payments to wind farm operators. Currently, National Grid pays millions of pounds a year to stop them exporting to the grid and overloading it.

Along with Enhanced Frequency Response, a superfast balancing service, Demand-Turn Up is National Grid’s newest demand-side response mechanism. It wants companies to use more power in return for payment to help balance the power system, which is rapidly changing in the face of intermittent renewable power, much of which is embedded on the distribution network.

Flexitricity founder and strategy chief, Dr Alastair Martin, said such services could help UK businesses – some of which feel they are at a disadvantage to European competitors due to energy policy costs – regain the initiative.

Get paid to use power

“Footroom, or demand turn-up, offers tremendous potential to the UK – not only does it put the country at the very forefront of developing and implementing the Grid of tomorrow, but it opens up a world of possibilities for business and for renewables developers,” he said.

“Currently, when the wind is at its strongest, the Grid turns large power stations down or off. But it can’t turn down all of them, so sometimes it has to turn off some of the wind farms. This wastes a free resource.

“With Footroom, businesses can boost productivity for minimal extra cost and are incentivised to do so. In turn, the Grid can increase the amount of electricity distributed to homes from clean, renewable energy sources.”

The service works by sending a signal to connected businesses, notifying them of an approaching increase in wind and the opportunity to increase demand. Those who do respond receive a payment in addition to the extra electricity.

“This will have a huge impact across the whole of the UK – and could give businesses connected to the system a competitive edge over European competitors,” said Martin. “Being an early adopter of Footroom will pay dividends not just now, but for years to come.”

The rise of DSR

The announcement comes 48 hours after Dong Energy launched a similar service – and as the demand-side response (DSR) industry ramps up activity. National Grid procured some 475MW of new, untested demand response last month.

Last summer the system operator outlined plans to increasingly use demand-side response services to balance the power system. By 2020, it aims to use DSR for between 30% and 50% of balancing activity.

Meanwhile, local grid operators are also trialling smart grid system operator models in a bid to resolve conflicts between national and local grid balancing – and the perverse signals that can occur between national and regional systems.

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