Flexibility advanced in GB market by Western Power Distribution


GB network operator Western Power Distribution reports continuous short-term flexibility trades and partnership with Flexitricity in Electric Nation V2G trial.

Over the past two months more than 50MW of flexibility services has been procured across 241 trades on the GB NODES ShortFlex market, network operator Western Power Distribution (WPD) has reported.

These findings demonstrate that flexibility can be bought and sold in a continuous short-term market. They form part of the IntraFlex trial, which is aimed to bring new routes to market for flexibility providers and enable new assets to participate.

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The trial, a collaboration between WPD, the independent market operator NODES and Smart Grid Consulting is looking at the impact on suppliers of calling on flexibility services and developing real-time markets where providers can signal their availability on the day.

Currently the trial is between the conclusion of the first phase and the formal start of the second phase, which is expected to get under way early in 2021, with a focus primarily on increasing the flexibility volumes on the platform.

Trial results demonstrated evident variability in how participants could capitalise on the service. Some bids were matched within 10 minutes of being uploaded, while others were matched less than two hours ahead of the required delivery period.

The trial also showed differences in behaviours based on the technology types used to provide flexibility. For example, peaking gas generators behaved differently to domestic scale providers.

In these early stages, bids have generally been driven by volume and timing requirements rather than price. However, feedback has indicated that this is likely to change as processes mature and volumes increase.

“Following the success of phase 1 of the trial, we are delighted to confirm that we will be continuing into phase 2,” says IntraFlex manager Matt Watson.

“The use of a continuously clearing marketplace presents a number of new opportunities in terms of how we procure services. The work in phase 1 has shown it can be done and we are excited to start building to phase 2 where we can trial options that become more viable with scale.”

Electric Nation V2G trial

The Electric Nation V2G trial which WPD is leading is aiming to develop the knowledge for large-scale vehicle-grid integration. Its differentiating factor from other V2G trials is its use of up to five different energy partners instead of just one in order to better simulate a future world in which many streets will have a number of EVs using V2G chargers with different energy suppliers.

Flexitricity, a pioneer of customer-side flexibility in Britain’s electricity market, is the first energy partner to join the trial, which is currently recruiting 100 Nissan EV owners in WPD’s licence areas in the Midlands, southwest and south Wales. Only Nissan EVs can be used for V2G charging currently due to their CHAdeMO technology.

A selection of 25 of these will be offered the opportunity to join the project with Flexitricity and the CrowdCharge platform and an ‘energy optimisation with grid services’ proposition.

EV drivers will inform the CrowdCharge platform to state when they next need the car and how much energy they will need. The first priority for CrowdCharge is to ensure these requirements are met. People are often plugged in for over 12 hours overnight but may only need one to two hours of charge each night. This allows a lot of time and flexibility to fit the EV charging in with the opportunity to optimise it based on the tariff and the supply and demand requirements of the home.

“We are offering a pioneering opportunity for EV drivers to help balance the load on the electricity grid, and to be rewarded for doing this,” says Andy Lowe, director at Flexitricity.

“This is providing a vision of the future when millions of EVs will be able to provide services to the grid, resulting in cost savings for car owners, reduced infrastructure spending for network operators and energy generators, as well as helping the country to achieve its net zero CO2 targets.”