Flexibility approach standardised for GB distribution network operators


The GB Energy Networks Association (ENA) has developed a tool for distribution network operators to ‘market test’ and decide on potential flexibility solutions.

The tool, which came into adoption on April 1, introduces a standard and transparent methodology for the network operators when choosing solutions to solve congestion.

Its aim is to provide greater visibility of the decision methodology and give confidence to flexibility providers, in turn stimulating flexibility volumes and competition in the market, ultimately reducing costs for network customers.

“The launch of this tool marks a big step forward as it essentially enables a common and transparent methodology for assessing flexibility across GB,” says Randolph Brazier, Director of Innovation and Electricity Systems at ENA.

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“Building these markets requires consumers to have the confidence to participate, so having a standard decision-making process across the country means that those wishing to pitch-in and provide services to the networks know exactly what criteria will be used to assess their solution no matter the location.”

The so-called Common Evaluation Methodology (CEM) was developed with consultants Baringa Partners and is believed to be a world first of its type.

Key areas of the methodology include defining the service requirement with load growth scenarios and flexibility requirements, economic assessment with cost-benefit analysis over the asset lifetime, and assessment of network intervention options in particular in comparison to reinforcement deferral.

Outputs include tables and charts showing for each scenario the benefit of flexibility at a specified price, Least Worst Regret and Weighted Average analyses, maximum (‘ceiling’) flexibility price that could be justified given the benefits of deferral and detailed cost-benefit analyses for a given number of deferral years for a given scenario.

The base use case is using flexibility to defer network reinforcement.

Other use cases include using flexibility to manage the re-energisation of the network, reducing the number and duration of customer interruptions and flexible connections under current and shallow charging regimes.

Future technologies such as dynamic network reconfiguration also can be accommodated in the tool.

“Developing this common approach through the project has allowed us to bring together expertise from across the country to make sure everyone can realise the benefits,” says Simon Brooke, CEM project lead at Electricity North West.

The tool is under open governance arrangements at ENA. A CEM User Forum is to be created in the summer with interested industry reps, which will look to build further considerations into the tool, such as optionality and carbon impact assessment.

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