We utilise a product called 'Regulating Reserve' to correct energy imbalances (differences between generation and demand) on the the GB power system.

Requirements for Regulating Reserve are set so that the risk of a loss of load event due to a reserve shortfall is uniform across all settlement periods in the year.

We currently use optional bids and offers in the Balancing Mechanism (BM) to create Regulating Reserve in real time. Sometimes this may require synchronising or desynchronising BM units to be able to create sufficient margin.

The cost of bids and offers has risen significantly. During periods of scarcity procuring reserve through BM bids and offers can be extremely expensive.

The proposed Balancing Reserve (BR) service will allow us to procure Regulating Reserve on a firm basis at day ahead. This will help reduce balancing costs and improve system security as the reserve capacity is guaranteed for the Control Room to access when they need it. By procuring BR, reserve volume is locked in ahead of the day ahead energy market and the energy is not available to be sold into continental markets over the interconnectors.

Technical requirements

Balancing Mechanism (BM) units which can provide a minimum contract capacity of 1MW or above will be eligible to participate in the Balancing Reserve market.

We expect successful BR contracted units to position themselves to offer headroom (capacity to allow the unit to increase output) and/or footroom (capacity which allows the unit to decrease output). Their position is expressed to the ESO via submission of some or all the following BM data parameters: 

  • Maximum Export Limit (MEL)  
  • Physical Notification (PN)  
  • Stable Import Limit (SIL) 
  • Stable Export Limit (SEL) 
  • Maximum Import Limit (MIL) 

Definitions of these data parameters can be found in Appendix 1 of BC1 within the Grid Code.

  • For Positive Balancing Reserve service (provision of headroom), the unit must meet the below condition:
    • (MEL – PN) ≥ contracted capacity, or
    • (SIL – PN) ≥ contracted capacity
  • For Negative Balancing Reserve service (provision of footroom), the unit must meet the below condition:
    • (PN – SEL) ≥ contracted capacity, or
    • (PN – MIL) ≥ contracted capacity
How to participate

How to participate

To participate in the Balancing Reserve market, providers must be:

  1. a BM Unit and;
  2. have control and / or system telephony during all contracted windows​ (see Grid Code CC/ECC 6.5.2 for definitions of control and system telephony) and;
  3. be capable of providing 1MW or more of reserve volume in line with the service design.

The requirement to be a BM Unit is driven by the need to submit dynamic parameters so that the control room has constant visibility of the true headroom of foot room available as well as the manual dispatch mechanism being through BM bids and offers.


To participate in Balancing Reserve your asset/unit will need to be registered in the Single Market Platform (SMP).

Further information regarding onboarding will be added here as it becomes available.

Balancing Reserve Mock Auctions and Onboarding Documentation

Existing Providers

Getting paid

There are two types of payment for the BR service:

Availability payment

This payment is for being available to provide the service within the service window. A single clearing price (£/MW/hour) for Positive Balancing Reserve and Negative Balancing Reserve is set for each service window and is paid to all successfully contracted BR providers. Providers submit their availability prices for service windows they wish to offer volume into before the day ahead auction.

Utilisation payment

This payment is for delivering energy in line with the BR Service Terms when instructed by us. The instruction is made inn the form of a Bid Offer Acceptance (BOA) in the Balancing Mechanism. The utilisation payment includes the energy delivered in ramping up to and down from the BOA Volume in accordance with the BR Service Terms.


Find links to explanations for payments, upcoming invoice dates and other frequently asked questions about settlements.

Find out about Settlements


We have updated updated our Q&A document, which now includes all your questions from the industry webinar on 16 November.

Download the Q&A document

Name Webinar Slides
Buy order information recording - 2 February 2024 Watch the webinar Download the slides
Industry drop in - 1 February 2024 Watch the webinar Download the slides
Industry webinar - 5 January 2024 Watch the webinar Download the slides
Industry webinar - 16 November 2023 Watch the webinar Download the slides
Industry webinar - 24 August 2023 Watch the webinar Download the slides
Industry webinar - 28 June 2023 Watch the webinar  
Industry webinar - 7 February 2023   Download the slides
Industry webinar - 22 November 2022 Watch the webinar Download the slides
Industry webinar - 20 October 2022 Watch the webinar Download the slides
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Further enquiries

Get in touch with the right team within Balancing Services, who are on hand to answer any questions you may have.