Tesla enters UK flex market as National Grid upgrades balancing mechanism tech


Tesla became the first party to trade flexible power in the balancing mechanism (BM) using National Grid’s new control room API.

The electric carmaker, equipped with a new electricity generation licence and its recently launched autobidder platform, bid the 7.5MW Holes Bay battery storage plant into the BM, National Grid ESO’s main market for balancing supply and demand close to real time.

In launching the new API, National Grid ESO aims to make it easier for smaller assets such as batteries and small distributed generators to bid into the BM. By bringing in more providers, the idea is that competition will deliver better value to bill payers.

Since rule changes kicked in last year, generators and aggregated loads as low as 1MW can bid into the BM. Wider access arrangements developed by Elexon and the ESO have also made it less onerous for aggregators to bring their portfolios into play, though it remains “hard work and quite slow” to become a virtual lead party, or VLP, according to some that have taken that route.

Others say the VLP approach will become more meaningful if proposals to enable individual asset meters located ‘behind the boundary point’ to be used for settlement purposes – a rule change proposed by Elexon – is agreed. That is, measuring what has been provided into the BM at an individual asset level, rather than at a site boundary point, where “noise” from other assets can cloud the picture.

Industry appears confident the modification proposal – P375 – will be given the green light from the industry parties who set the rules, with Elexon CEO Mark Bygraves telling Energyst’s sister title New Power that it has “unanimous” support and should be in play by spring 2022.

Roisin Quinn, head of national control and chief engineer at National Grid ESO, welcomed Tesla into the BM and said the wider access initiative is a key part in helping the ESO keep an increasingly renewables-driven power system stable. 

She said: “The API will open the market to a wider range of providers and technologies, increase competition for balancing services and bring better value for consumers – and it will take us a step closer to being able to operate the grid with zero carbon by 2025.”

Tesla Motors acquired a power generation licence in June and aims to amass a virtual power plant. It is not yet clear if its cars are part of that plan.


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