Electricity North West signs up to Piclo platform ahead of 36MW flexibility tender


Electricity North West is the latest distribution network operator (DNO) to trial the Piclo platform, which hopes to prove itself a better enabler of flexibility services procurement for balancing local and regional grids.

As DNOs begin their transition to distribution system operators (DSOs), they are ramping up procurement of flexibility – harnessing generation and flexible load within specific locations – to help solve local constraint issues and balance the national system.

Some DNOs have begun flexibility tenders, but as yet, there is no single method or platform to help connect sources of flexibility with DNOs, either direct for businesses, or via aggregators. Fragmentation and duplication of work in an already complex marketplace may therefore cause problems that market participants are keen to avoid.

Piclo, formerly Open Utility, has now signed up three DNOs to trial its services, with UK Power Networks using the platform to help procure flexibility, and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks is already onboard.

Electricity North West plans to launch a tender next month for around 36MW of flexibility for the coming winter, and has outlined its forecast requirements out to winter 2021/22. It seeks minimum flexible loads of 100kW from sites contracting directly, or 200kW minimum for aggregated portfolios (details here).

Cara Blockley, central services manager at Electricity North West, said the firm is “delighted to join the Piclo Flex consortium. An online platform could lower barriers and increase participation in this important new service needed by the industry”.

Piclo CEO and co-founder, James Johnston, welcomed Electricity North West to the “growing number of DNOs who are trialling the platform. We hope to demonstrate how better visibility of flexible assets and streamlining of procurement processes through our platform can lead to better outcomes and more efficient operation of the grid”.

Piclo Flex is being developed as part of a BEIS funded trial and has been running since September 2017.

As Open Utility, the firm has also worked with green energy supplier Good Energy in the UK, and on peer-to-peer energy trading trials with Innogy-owned Essent in the Netherlands.

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