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UK Power Networks unlocks 400MW of additional capacity

UK Power Networks' new flexibility tender unlocks 400 MW of additional capacity.
UK Power Networks' new flexibility tender unlocks more than 400 MW of additional capacity.

A UK-first product is set to deliver more than 400MW of additional electricity capacity, as UK Power Networks announced the results of its latest flexibility tender.

In April this year, UK Power Networks established the UK’s first independent Distribution System Operator (DSO). The DSO has committed to saving customers £410 million over the next five years by using flexibility to deliver capacity on the network at lower cost than building new infrastructure.

The company’s latest tender round saw it seek bids for flexibility from 1,037 sites, up from just 28 in its first ever flexibility tender in 2018.

The new product is enabling UK Power Networks to efficiently connect more renewable energy to the network and avoids spending substantial sums of customer money on major network reinforcement for capacity that may only be needed for a few hours a year.

For the first time, UK Power Networks has awarded contracts to distributed energy resources and aggregators to increase demand or turn down supply during periods of excess power. The flexibility tender attracted more than 1,000 MW of flexible capacity against requirements of 426MW, providing competition that will drive down costs. As it has done previously, UK Power Networks also procured flexibility to turn down demand at times of peak consumption.

Sotiris Georgiopoulos, DSO Director at UK Power Networks, explained that using energy assets connected to the network flexibly allowed it to manage the uncertainty of when and where new network infrastructure will be needed, meaning investment will be in the right place at the right time.

He commented, “This will be the decade when Net Zero becomes real for many of our customers; that means millions of new electric vehicles, heat pumps and other low carbon technologies like domestic solar and batteries. The DSO will make sure we are ready to accommodate that change, while keeping costs down for bill payers.

“Tapping into customer flexibility means we can connect more renewable energy and low carbon technologies to the network. Our independent DSO, overseen by a board of industry experts, aims to give this new and fast-growing market confidence in the transparency of our investment decisions.”

Louis Fairfax, Managing Director of flexibility provider CUB (UK) Ltd, which was successful in the latest flexibility tender, added, “On the back of participating in the national Demand Flexibility Service, this is the first time we’re working with our customers to support local grid requirements.

“Working with UK Power Networks has been straightforward – we particularly value their accommodating, open and honest approach to this tender process ran through the Piclo system. I hope that this will be the first of many opportunities for our customers to support local grid decarbonisation.”

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