Northern Powergrid launches new search for Flexibility Services providers


Expressions of interests invited from large energy users, distributed generators, aggregators and other providers of flexibility services.

Generators of electricity, businesses that consume a lot of energy and aggregators are among those being invited to express interest in providing flexibility services to Northern Powergrid across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.

The distribution network operator has launched a fresh call for parties interested in providing flexibility services to come forward. Flexibility services can involve shifting the time of energy usage (for example in a factory), supporting the local network with generation at short notice, or offering up the ability to charge empty energy storage with excess power. These services are a vital part of local power grid operations and are expected to increase in importance as more renewable energy is used.

The operator recently released its emerging thinking about its forthcoming business plan for 2023-28 regulatory period (RIIO ED2), in which it outlines the potential for a “flexibility first” approach to meeting the energy needs of its 8 million customers in the region.

Launched today, the expression of interest call is open to all interested customers on its network who meet a series of criteria, including certain days of the week and months of the year when support is most likely to be needed. The call out seeks responses from customers in certain locations that can change their energy consumption or generation patterns in response to signals from Northern Powergrid. The areas identified are indicative for the 2023-28 period and are provided now in order to understand what could be possible from both established and potential new energy resources.

The new call for interest comes as Northern Powergrid continues its work to identify the best approach to customer-led flexibility. Jim Cardwell, head of Policy Development at Northern Powergrid, commented, “The need for flexibility is expected to grow as everything from electric cars to renewable generation changes our consumption habits and energy needs. Supporting our local area to reach net zero is a huge part of our current business planning activity and assessing the benefits of customer-driven network flexibility is at the very heart of that. We are testing the market and urge potential customers to come forward and see what role they can play in a zero-carbon future.”

Currently, following analysis of feasible energy growth scenarios, Northern Powergrid is indicating needs for up to 19MW of flexibility services across the following areas. The aim of building flexible power grid management into these sites is to increase resilience, drive down costs and accelerate the move to a cleaner, more efficient power network.

• Doncaster
• Goole
• Harrogate
• Heckmondwike
• Knottingley
• Leeds
• Malton
• Middlesbrough
• Scunthorpe
• Sheffield
• Whitley Bay
• York

“Different sites have different requirements such that there is no one size fits all solution,” adds Jim. “This will steer the types of parties who might want to get involved. For example, in Malton we are looking for flexibility at the weekends, and on Mondays and Tuesday afternoons in December. We might only need to call on our flexibility providers in this area a handful of times a year. Conversely in Scunthorpe we are seeking interest from customers for a much longer timeframe of the year – April to December and this may suit regular, repeat support from generators.”
Minimum requirements for flexibility providers:

  • For a site to provide flexibility it must be located in the relevant position on the network – this includes connection voltage level and geographic location. The table below contains further information on these locations.
  • The asset should be controllable and non-intermittent.
    Asset operators looking to participate in providing flexibility services between 2023-2028 should express interest by emailing Northern Powergrid will then follow up with the interested parties.

Details of this call for interest can also be found via. the Flexible Power website here. Flexible Power is a joint initiative from four UK Electricity Distribution Network Operators (DNOs); Western Power Distribution, Northern Powergrid, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks and Scottish Power Energy Networks. This collaboration, announced in October 2020, is helping to drive forward standardisation in the use of flexibility by local network companies so that engagement with these new markets is made simpler and thereby more effective.

The areas where we are seeking to understand the availability of customers to provide flexibility are those where our analysis has indicated that there is a likelihood that we will need to take action within the 2020s.

It is foreseeable that there will be other parts of our network where needs will emerge that were unforeseen (for example, a significant increase in a major industrial electricity user’s demand). For that reason, we would encourage customers to register their flexibility assets with us across our wider operating region, so that we have improved information on the ability of the market to respond to any such unpredicted future needs to deploy flexibility.

Areas where flexibility assets are sought.

Details of flexibility requirements at each location.


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