UK Power Networks’ Distribution System Operator (DSO) is to become the first network to offer a day-ahead flexibility product at distribution level.

The move comes after a successful trial in the East of England and will transform the flexibility marketplace, opening up more opportunities for electricity providers and supporting green energy.

The introduction of the day-ahead product will see mini-tenders run daily to provide services for the following day, alongside the current twice-yearly flex tenders. The mini-tenders allow flexibility providers to offer a more informed view of their availability, offering new commercial opportunities and meaning they can co-ordinate their activity providing services in other places such as wholesale markets and ancillary services.

The new product enables flexibility providers to help manage peaks in supply and demand by committing to changes in their behaviour the day before delivery.

Day-ahead flexibility began in late 2023 with a manual trial in Lawford, Essex, where day-ahead flex was used to manage an area where future constraints were forecast. As a hub for renewable generation and home to a growing number of flexibility providers, it served as a testbed for the first trial of DSO day-ahead product.

The trial successfully saw the UK’s first use of the day-ahead product at distribution level, with three flexibility providers responding to day-ahead forecasts of constraints produced by UK Power Networks’ DSO. The DSO worked with flexibility providers and the national system operator in summer 2023 to develop the product so that it maximised opportunities for providers to participate in both local and national services.

Working with flexibility market platform provider Epex SPOT, the day-ahead product is transitioning from a manual process to a platform that uses an API to communicate data with market participants’ own systems.

Alex Howard, head of flexibility markets at UK Power Networks’ DSO, said “Flexibility providers have told us that they want the chance to participate closer to real-time. We’ve responded by working with them to develop a solution that works for our company, flexibility providers and the wider system. As we now transition participants to the EPEX SPOT LocalFlex platform, I’m excited about scaling this up to attract new flexibility to DSO markets.”

Casper Ruane, portfolio manager for flexibility at AMP, said: “This first-of-its-kind product answers customer calls for real-time participation and has the proven ability to provide network users with more support as well as widen the accessibility of the flexibility market. We look forward to working with UK Power Networks during the live roll out over the coming weeks.’


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