The first seven months of this year have seen grid flexibility contracts and smart energy deals outpacing all of 2020’s transactions by 45% in terms of capacity.

Flex and energy response trades already completed in 2021 amount to a notional 1.6 GW of new capacity, against 1.2GW for the whole of 2020, according to data compiled by the Energy Networks Association.

The ENA equates 2021’s deals so far to connecting 32,000 50 kW EV chargers to the national grid, or adding a notional half of the new Hinckley Point C nuclear plant’s 3.2 GW.

Surprising participants, the soaring market for UK supply arbitrage has delighted network managers and output suppliers.

“Breaking the previous record for flexibility after only seven months of this year is great news for customers and great news for Net Zero”,  commented Randolph Brazier, the ENA’s innovation and systems director.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg”, Brazier added. “The UK has some of the world’s most ambitious decarbonisation targets.   Open Networks is helping to pave the way through flexibility to bring on more low carbon technologies. We’re continuing to power forward, further and faster – in line with Government’s Ten Point Plan and Climate Change Committee targets

Focused so far on industrial and commercial users, the next big step for flexibility services is residential flexibility, grasped through aggregated EVs, heat pumps and other smart technologies.  Emerging local energy markets add a new dimension to a swiftly changing national picture, network managers believe.

The ENA has published the figures to coincide with its wide-reaching consultation on flexibility, open until 24 September.

The industry body’s Open Networks project team seeks responses from energy buyers and industry participants and, identifying how the project can further drive standardisation in local energy markets nationwide.

Industry viewpoints are vital, it believes, in identifying barriers to entry.  New aggregators or direct participants, such as private or municipal sites with electric vehicle charge-points, should be welcomed into an efficient, open, tradable market.

Details of the consultation are here.


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