For the first time anywhere in the world a transmission grid operator (National Grid ESO) and distribution grid operator (Western Power Distribution) are trialling coordinated flexibility procurement through using the same platform, Centrica’s Cornish Local Energy Market (LEM).
The LEM gives Cornish homes, businesses, and distributed generators the power to sell energy through a virtual marketplace, getting paid to reduce or delay their consumption, offering the ESO flexibility which could help in its role balancing the overall network.
The platform seeks to benefit each participant, and the grid more widely, by providing a mechanism for the network operators to indicate when they will need an increase or decrease in generation or consumption to balance the grid or manage a local network constraint. These needs can then be met by the homes and businesses, in return for a financial reward – creating significant opportunities for energy users who are able to be flexible with their usage or call upon smart energy storage solutions.
The Cornish project forms part of National Grid ESO’s work to increase participation in more intelligent and flexible energy use and technology, including Demand Side Response (DSR). DSR helps businesses increase, decrease, or shift their electricity – in response to a signal – to help balance Britain’s electricity system. In turn they receive strong financial incentives, lower their bills, reduce their carbon footprint and play an important role in the transition to a low carbon energy system.
As Distribution Network Operators become more active manager of their networks, it is increasingly important for all network operators (including the ESO) to work together to find efficiencies in their flexibility procurement and manage the electricity grid securely and at least cost to the end consumer.
Colm Murphy, Electricity Market Change Development Manager, said:
“Exploring the provision of flexibility through a local energy market is a first for us and even though we’re in the early stages of the trial, we’re looking forward to evaluating the results.
“In particular we’re keen to understand how flexibility can be procured efficiently and cost effectively between different markets. The potential is really exciting as we look to unlock more flexible energy resources in the market, and greater cost benefits to consumers.
“As we move towards our 2025 ambition of being able to operate the GB electricity system carbon free we are seeing more renewable generation come online – such as wind and solar – which in turn requires increased flexibility to balance the grid. Initiatives such as this help us deliver secure, sustainable and affordable electricity – softening peaks in demand and filling in the troughs, especially at times when more power is available and it’s cleaner too.”
Pieter-Jan Mermans, Director of Optimisation, Centrica Business Solutions said:
“This is a milestone moment for the energy network and comes as the result of several years of hard work by the team at Centrica and as well as our partners at National Grid, WPD, N-SIDE, Exeter University and Imperial College London.
“Improving grid flexibility benefits everyone from generators to consumers, and these trials represent a major step forward.
“We are hugely grateful to the householders and businesses across Cornwall who have embraced this trial with open arms, and we look forward to providing a full update after the trials conclude in spring 2020.”
Link to full Centrica announcement here.
For more detail on National Grid ESO’s work on Demand Side Response please click here