Image: National Grid ESO

UK green energy supplier Social Energy will use domestic solar panels and batteries to supply flexibility to National Grid ESO, the system operator.

The contract, a first in Great Britain, is for week-ahead firm frequency response (FFR) to support the balancing of the national grid. It follows the results of a recent trial weekly auction.

Social Energy will use 80% of its fleet of battery-powered customers to provide 4MW of FFR capacity to the ESO. Customers using solar panels and batteries connected through Social Energy’s artificial intelligence powered platform can optimise their energy use. Any excess can be exported to the grid, where they can take advantage of low or even negative energy prices.

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Domestic customers, as small suppliers, are unable to participate directly in balancing markets. An intermediary or aggregator such as Social Energy is required to aggregate a viable capacity to trade for grid management.

“It is great to see new approaches to the market and a first contract made up of just domestic customers,” says David Spencer, New Business Manager at National Grid ESO. “Firm frequency response is one of the many tools we use to balance the system. It’s a great initiative, with the services being used moving away from traditional sources to cleaner, decentralized power.”

Firm frequency response forms part of the ESO’s programme of work preparing Britain’s electricity system to be able to run on purely zero carbon electricity by 2025, the system operator said in a statement.

The Frequency Response Auction trial is a two-year project to trial the procurement of a portion of the ESO’s frequency response requirement via weekly pay-as-clear auctions.

Social Energy claims that customers using its platform can reduce their electricity bills by up to 70%, while also gaining access to 100% renewable energy.