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New fast frequency product to boost National Grid ESO’s response capability

A new faster-acting frequency response mechanism to be launched early next year marks the latest development in National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO)’s suite of services for managing the flow of energy around the grid.

The new suite, whose flagship dynamic containment product is an evolution of the ESO’s enhanced frequency response (EFR) tool, has been shaped following two years of consultation with industry.

The ESO’s announcement comes as it publishes its new product roadmap for response and reserve, which sets out how its ancillary services and markets for managing frequency will develop as it transforms the grid to be able to operate with zero carbon by 2025.

Frequency response is the automatic change to generation or demand on the grid to counteract and contain changes to the system frequency, which the ESO must keep within one percent of 50Hz. It’s made possible by buying response from the energy market to hold ready for use if needed.

Dynamic containment will be among the fastest of the ESO’s frequency response services, capable of responding within one second to deviations in frequency, and – when fully developed – able to draw on a wider and more diverse range of technologies and generation providers.

The dynamic and rapid management of frequency on a near real-time basis is becoming increasingly important as the ESO operates a system with more non-synchronous renewable energy generation, meaning less inertia – inertia being the measure of how quickly frequency will change when there is a system imbalance.

The new product is a step up in capability from the EFR, and – while open to battery providers initially – will in the longer term widen the range of possible providers, allowing them to offer both high-frequency and low-frequency response.

In a trial which also forms part of its product roadmap, the ESO debuted a new frequency response auction platform last week, developed with auction partner EPEX SPOT to improve its ability to procure dynamic frequency response closer to real-time. On the auction’s opening day on Friday, a total of 10,284MW was traded on the platform.

The roadmap announcement also follows the recent launch of the ESO’s stability pathfinder, which outlines the key developments the system operator will be making in the near future around balancing services such as inertia.

National Grid ESO will be engaging further with potential participants in the new frequency response suite from this week, with a view to rolling out the service next year.

Commenting on the new dynamic containment product, Ro Quinn – head of national control at National Grid ESO – said:

The new frequency response suite has been a couple of years in the making, so we’re delighted to be confirming the launch. Our dynamic containment product in particular will be a milestone on our roadmap for new and innovative changes to the electricity system, which will help our national control centre operate it more effectively, flexibly and – importantly – carbon free by 2025.

As we move to a system with a more diverse energy mix, dynamic containment will be crucial to help us meet future challenges – particularly when it comes to fast frequency response and the task of balancing the system in real-time.

Colm Murphy, head of electricity market change delivery at National Grid ESO, said:

It’s always an exciting time introducing our roadmap for frequency response and reserve, particularly when it marks the launch of a significant new suite of services and a pilot auction platform.

From this week we’ll be accelerating the conversations we’re having with providers we hope will engage with the new products and services set out in our roadmap, and we’ll continue working with participants in the auction trial to improve our understanding of how procurement of services closer to real-time can reap benefits for system operation, the market and energy consumers in Great Britain.

Following the launch of dynamic containment in its new frequency response suite, National Grid ESO will also be introducing dynamic regulation and moderation products – designed to provide (respectively) response when frequency is close to 50Hz, and rapid response to sudden frequency imbalances in intermittent generation (such as gusting winds).