Flexitricity: Fruitful returns from CHP plants in the Balancing Mechanism


The commercial horticulturist has created new revenue streams by optimising the flexibility it has with its combined heat and power (CHP) plant, generating over £300,000 during the past decade.

This has been achieved through participation in Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR) and most recently the Balancing Mechanism, managing its electricity consumption and generation in real-time.

In doing so, Glen Avon Growers has improved its bottom line whilst helping National Grid meet the energy demands of the UK as we move to a low carbon economy.

Here we discuss how the partnership has given Glen Avon Growers the power to maximise revenue while delivering competitively-priced British produce for consumers.

Glen Avon Growers, a third-generation family run business, was established in 1936 in Cottingham England, by the family’s grandfather.

From providing fresh produce for the local market in Hull, the business now has glasshouses spreading over 16 acres, producing tomatoes and cucumbers for major retailers such as ASDA.

Energy accounts for a third of all costs for Glen Avon Growers. With these costs continuing to rise, it was vital that Glen Avon explored opportunities to drive greater efficiencies in its management of energy on site.

In 2011, Glen Avon Growers started working with Flexitricity as part of a strategy to develop sustainable revenue opportunities and maintain competitive prices for its customers.

As traditional generators like large coal and gas-fired power stations are being replaced by cleaner but intermittent renewables, there is huge opportunity for flexible energy users and generators – like Glen Avon Growers – to help National Grid meet the energy demands of the UK.

Flexitricity’s role is to identify flexibility at customer sites and make that flexibility available to National Grid at the right time and the right price, maximising revenue for the site. The demand response pioneer operates a 24/7 control room from their Edinburgh office, allowing them to optimise value through continuous analysis fed by up-to-the-second measurement the energy markets and each site’s capabilities and needs.

To increase its yield and profitability, Glen Avon Growers uses its CHP engines alongside biomass boilers to maintain the required volumes of CO2 and heat for the crop.

Each site requires one CHP running seven days a week from March to September for production of CO2 with additional heat required in colder months. Outside of this core site requirement, there is a huge opportunity to maximise income from the CHPs when not in use.

There are several sources of revenue for flexible consumers and small generators, and the most lucrative options change from time to time. Glen Avon was able to earn revenue through STOR for a number of years but has recently switched to trading in the Balancing Mechanism through Flexitricity+ Energy Supply.

Taking advantage of these energy market opportunities has enabled Glen Avon to earn additional revenue from its assets to off-set energy costs, while maintaining competitively priced produce for Glen Avon’s customers.

As result of the partnership with Flexitricity, Glen Avon has generated over £300,000 in revenue during the past decade.

David Schellingerhout, Managing Director, at Glen Avon Growers discusses the huge impact of working with Flexitricity.

He said: “We started working with Flexitricity through a recommendation from Green Combined Power, who offer an engine O&M service as well as energy management. When we heard about their professionalism and expertise, and the opportunity, we were quick to establish a partnership as we knew it would be a strong business decision.

“We’ve been able to keep energy costs down in an innovative way, allowing us to earn revenue by being flexible with our energy management on site.

“It’s all about remaining agile and working with the opportunities that are out there and Flexitricity has been able to offer us something that has perfectly met our requirements.

He added: “As far as energy management is concerned, it’s an area that’s forever changing and the volatility of the energy market is one of the biggest ongoing challenges we face. Anything we can do to keep energy costs down we will explore.

“We’ve achieved a lot so far working with Flexitricity, and we have the confidence to expand. Further plans are already in motion following the recent installation of an additional two-megawatt CHP unit which will support our plans for growth.”

Discover more at flexitricity.com

Related stories:

How Flexitricity optimises revenue for Gateshead Council’s district energy scheme

Optimising revenue from battery storage

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