National Grid’s electricity distribution arm is flexing its commercial muscle, again seeking to embrace homes – or their aggregators – looking to time-shift their power demands.
The national ESO’s distribution division provides DNO services in the Midlands, South West and South Wales. It has already attracted 433 homes with storage assets such as EV chargers or home-scale batteries to take part in this winter’s flexibility events. Now it wants more.
“Flattening the spikes“ of peak demand is getting ever more valuable to operators of networks congested by ever heavier demands caused by increased electrification of heat, mobility and industry.
£147 million of network reinforcement upgrades deferred or mitigated was, grid operators calculate, the benefit of last year’s debuting of mass domestic load-shifting away from the most heavily contested hours.
As for last winter, flex providers will be rewarded over this winter, with the average participant company receiving £3,000 per MWh per year. Depending on need, maximum earnings could rise to £18,000 per MWh, with some providers earning significantly more.
Preparing for last winter’s exercise, the Grid’s early calculations were to reward domestic accounts equipped with smart meters with payments as generous as 600 pence per kilowatt hour to cook, charge vehicles, or run storage heaters at times other than winter evenings.
In the late winter of 2022, around 100,000 Octopus Energy customers trialled load-shifting in collaboration with the Grid.
This year NGED’s system can be used alongside other flexibility products or supplier tariffs, aiding network operators’ quest to reduce customer energy bills.
Suppliers and aggregators looking to take part must be registered through National Grid’s Market Gateway platform. This enables businesses to sign up to become Flexibility Service Providers (FSPs).
The online tool digitalises the process of procuring flexibility, speeding up interactions in the supply marketplace and simplifying the contracting process FSPs need to follow.
The distribution element makes up around 10% of an average customer’s annual bill equivalent, says National Grid to roughly £100, or 27p a day
Ben Godfrey, National Grid’s director overseeing distribution operations, said: “Stakeholder feedback over the last 18 months tells us that flexibility needs to be more accessible to a broader market.
“The Market Gateway is an online tool that reduces the burden of gaining a contract, registering assets and trading services. It standardises and digitises the commercial and technical registration processes, enabling a level playing field for suppliers, aggregators and marketplaces to develop flexibility markets on our behalf.”
National Grid assess its flex potential as over three million customers in areas where flexibility services are in operation. It plans to expand on past success with introduction this winter of Short Term flexibility procurement.
Helen Sawdon, NG’s commercial lead on flexibility, explained: “Short term trades will be procured on a weekly basis, with the availability and price agreed each week before delivery allowing opportunities for new flexible assets to enter the market as soon as they become eligible.
“We anticipate too that, by reducing the amount of time between procurement and delivery, we’ll see a greater level of successful participation from intermittent assets that are unable to commit to delivery over longer timescales.”
Among firms working with National Grid, Electric Miles, an EV smart charging platform, intends ensure that customers can benefit from offering themselves to flex.
Arun Anand, the firm’s founder & CEO observed, “Working with National Grid is a vital step towards achieving the UK’s green energy vision.
“The SmartFlex solution empowers EV drivers, charge point operators, and the grid itself. Users of the Electric Miles app play a pivotal role in EVs’ contribution to grid stability.”