Distribution network operator SSEN will trial Open Utility’s flexibility trading platform to try and make it easier for companies to provide demand-side response, or local grid balancing services.
Distribution network operators (DNOs) need these services due to growing volumes of small-scale generation on their networks, which can cause congestion, known as constraint issues. Congestion on the networks is expected to increase with the anticipated rise of electric vehicles.
If DNOs have to run their networks closer to their limits, they will need to pay businesses to adjust consumption, or turn generators on or off, when and where required.
This is a shift in the traditional engineering-led approach of DNOs, to a more customer-facing operation more reliant on the willingness of other parties – their customers – to provide those services.
Open Utility believes its software can help DNOs achieve that balancing act. Its Piclo platform enables peer-to-peer and local flexibility trading, so that local companies can buy power from local generators, or suppliers can match local generators with local consumers.
The company believes its platform also reduces barriers to entry for ‘long tail’ or smaller providers of flexibility.
Bringing smaller flexibility providers into demand-side response or flexibility provision is seen as crucial to scale the market, but complexity is a challenge. As such, those procuring the services have to make it easy and sufficiently attractive.
As well as the SSEN trial, Open Utility has government funding to trial its local flexibility marketplace with aggregators and battery operators. It will invite those firms to register assets via its platform in the next few weeks.