Our response to coronavirus

Find out how we're working to keep Great Britain’s lights on reliably throughout the outbreak

Future of balancing services

Please note: Given the challenges posed by COVID-19 we will be constantly reviewing our plans and several projects may be impacted. Click here to find out more.

As the UK moves to a low-carbon economy, the way we operate the electricity system is evolving. A smart, flexible system that makes the best use of all the energy resources available will enable us to meet our customers’ needs in a balanced, efficient and economical way.

Our aim is to create balancing services markets that meet our changing system needs, and in which all technology types can compete on a level playing field. To achieve this, we will:

  • provide market information that plainly sets out our needs;
  • simplify our products to create transparency; and
  • ensure routes to market for all participants.

We will publish updates on services and system needs via this page. We are keen to understand your views. You can get in touch with us to provide your thoughts and feedback at [email protected]. If you would like to be kept informed, please sign up to the mailing list using the link on the right.  

Flexibility from Intermittent Generation

March 2020

In this report we provide an overview of our current markets and the barriers that we are aware exist for intermittent generation types, along with the work that we are doing to increase access to our markets for this specific technology group. With these enablers we hope to increase competition, unlock consumer value and facilitate open and transparent markets. These are some of the deliverables that we have committed to as part of the ESO Forward Plan, and we will be continuing to report progress through the monthly and quarterly Forward Plan progress reports.

Download the Wider Strategy for Flexibility from Intermittent Generation 


Operability Strategy Report

December 2019

We have updated our Operability Strategy which summarises how we are meeting future operability challenges, the link to our zero carbon ambition and how stakeholders can engage to help achieve this. This document also includes the operability milestones for the next five years as shown in the image below. 

Download the Operability Strategy Report 2020



Response and Reserve Roadmap

December 2019

This document updates our plans for the reform of our frequency response and reserve services.  It is our priority to reform the design of these services to ensure that they are capable of supporting the operation of the electricity system carbon-free by 2025. This document gives an update on the progress made since the publication of our 2017 System Needs and Product Strategy (SNaPS) document, the service-specific roadmaps, the ESO Forward Plan and initial publications on the service designs. 

Download the Response and Reserve Roadmap 2019


Phase 2 frequency response auction trial

If you are wishing to enter the Auction Trial, please head to the Phase 2 Auction Trial page.

September 2019

Our Phase 2 Frequency Response Auction Trial platform, developed in cooperation with our auction partners EPEXSPOT, is planned to be released in the week commencing Monday 28th October.  The first Commercial Phase 2 Auction will take place on Friday 29th November, with delivery commencing at 23:00 GMT that same evening.

The information below provides further information about the activities we have planned to prepare for these go-live milestones over the coming weeks, and about the products that we will procure on the new platform at go-live.

Phase 1 frequency response auction trial

If you are wishing to enter the Auction Trial, please head to the Phase 2 Auction Trial page.

June 2019

The weekly auction trial results and buy order hash can now be found under the FFR Market Information tab.  Results will be published weekly on a Friday.

Phase 1 of the weekly frequency response trial went live on Thursday 13th June 2019, with results being published on Friday 14th June. This process will run weekly to procure a low frequency static service.

In line with clause 2.1 of the Service Terms, we will from time to time update the contractual documents to ensure they are fit for purpose. The documents published on the website will be valid for the auction that is run in seven days’ time. This means that if the contracts are updated, they will not affect the current auction week.

So that the archived and current versions are visible, there are two folders containing the contractual document – please pay attention to which is the latest version (the most recent upload date and version number). The updated documents themselves have an updated version number in the document title and a modification history on the first page summarising the changes.

Future of Frequency Response publication

February 2019

The purpose of the Future of Frequency Response document is to explain the journey so far for the reform of frequency response, the latest developments on the weekly auction trial and new frequency response products, and explain future opportunities for industry to engage. We will be communicating details of the frequency response auction trial services, contract documentation and the process for participation shortly.

Download the Future of Frequency Response publication

Auction Trial for Frequency Response - Webinar

September 2018

We are developing a trial of a weekly cleared price auction for a defined volume of our frequency response requirement. This trial will look at testing a number of improvements and new areas of functionality, which will increase market transparency and lower barriers to entry for new providers. We held a webinar on 27th September to provide more detail to the market on how the auction platform will operate.

Watch the webinar presentation here

Click here to download the current Q & A document.


Consultation on Exclusivity Clauses

October 2018

In the Product Roadmap for Frequency Response and Reserve, we committed to publish and consult industry on revised exclusivity clauses within balancing services contracts.  These clauses place restrictions on what other commercial services, such as those to DNOs, can be provided by parties who are contracted to provide balancing services to the ESO.  This review is also an important element of the Energy Networks Association Open Networks Project, which is facilitating the emergence of Distribution System Operator (DSO) models. 

The consultation is open until 26 October 2018.

Download the consultation letter

We received 14 responses to our consultation, and the feedback will be taken forward through the Open Networks Workstream 1A (http://tinyurl.com/yyff2asu).  We have also created a matrix of stackable balancing services in our interactive guidance document here https://www.nationalgrideso.com/balancing-services


Performance Monitoring Policy

September 2018

As part of the Product Roadmap for Frequency Response and Reserve, we committed to reviewing our policy for testing and performance monitoring of balancing services.  

Download the Policy


Update on Auction Trial

August 2018

We are going to run a trial to test procurement of a volume of our frequency response requirement next year. The following letter sets out some of the detail in advance of a webinar at the end of September.

Download the Auction Trial letter


Wider Access to the Balancing Mechanism Roadmap 

July 2018

Our Wider Access to the Balancing Mechanism (BM) Roadmap sets out the commitments and actions to improve existing BM entry routes and create a new route to market. We hope this document will help interested parties understand what they can do now and when specific barriers to entry will be removed. 

Download the Wider Access to the Balancing Mechanism Roadmap


Transmission thermal constraints information note

July 2018

Our information note provides detail on how we manage thermal constraints on the electricity transmission system currently and how we plan to manage these constraints in future. We also share information on trials with Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to enable distributed energy resources to provide thermal constraint management services.

Download the thermal constraints information note


Product Roadmap for restoration

May 2018

Our Product Roadmap for restoration sets out the commitments and actions to improve transparency around Black Start services and to remove barriers to entry to allow improved market access to a broader range of potential participants.

Download the Product Roadmap for restoration


Product Roadmap for reactive power

May 2018

Our Product Roadmap for reactive power provides greater clarity on our service requirements and our plans to work more closely with our industry partners to improve the shorter term market for reactive power.

Download the Product Roadmap for reactive power

Regional Development Programmes (RDPs)

RDPs look across the whole-system landscape to identify key areas of development to unlock additional network capacity, reduce constraints, and open up new revenue streams for market participants. Find out more on the Regional Development Programmes page.

Product Roadmap for frequency response and reserve

December 2017

Our Product Roadmap sets out the actions to be taken forward for frequency response and reserve markets and details the principles that will govern the way that balancing services are procured in future. The Product Roadmap also outlines broader improvements to how the SO shares information with the market to enhance transparency of decision making. Insights from across the energy sector have helped to shape the Roadmap through a series of formal and informal consultations.

Download the Product Roadmap for Frequency Response and Reserve

System Needs and Product Strategy (SNAPS)

June 2017

Our SNAPS consultation provides more information on our future system needs and seeks to consult on how we can best facilitate the evolution of balancing services markets.

Download the System Needs and Product Strategy (SNAPS) document

We hosted two webinars on the SNAPS on 3 July and 7 July 2017. You can download the slides and Q&A from this webinar:



This consultation closed on 18 July 2017. You can find a summary of the main insights by downloading this document: 

Summary of Consultation Responses

As part of our work on product simplification, we have undertaken a process of rationalisation of our existing product suite. The following letter sets out the results of this review, along with a summary of the short term actions we are taking to improve the Firm Frequency Response market.

Letter on Rationalisation

Related documents

16 August 2017 - commercial principles for contracted flexibility: promoting access to markets for distributed energy resources

To manage the electricity system efficiently, we need to make sure distributed energy resources are able to participate in local and national flexibility markets. The Energy Networks Association has published a commercial principles paper that sets out a number of considerations to be addressed, and different models for DER participation in flexibility markets, representing a significant step towards enabling market access for DERs.

You can access the paper via the ENA's website

This paper is a consultation, which closes on 29 September 2017. The response will inform the ENA's Open Network Project deliverables and our work on evolution of balancing services products.

4 August 2017 - Connecting to UK Power Network's South East Coast network - information for distributed energy resources

In our role as Electricity System Operator, we are collaborating with UK Power Networks to trial new ways of working to solve network issues on a whole system basis. Together, we have developed an approach that unlocks further capacity for the connection of distributed energy resources in the South East coast region of England. 

You can download the factsheet here.

This fact sheet sets out what developers of distributed energy resources need to know about constraint management arrangements that will facilitate additional capacity to connect within the South-East Coast distribution network from June 2017 (covering Bolney, Ninfield, Sellindge and Canterbury Grid Supply Points).