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NORTHERN POWERGRID UNVEILS POTENTIAL OPPORTUNITIES TO HELP MAXIMISE USE OF THE REGION’S ELECTRICITY NETWORK FOR CUSTOMERS

Electricity network operator shares early visibility of potential revenue-earning opportunities for customers that can offer flexibility services

Northern Powergrid has unveiled 19 locations where it expects to offer revenue-earning opportunities in the future in return for flexibility services that could maximise use of capacity on its existing network to meet demand instead of customers having to pay for costly infrastructure schemes. 

The electricity network operator is encouraging connected customers like large energy users or those with onsite storage or non-intermittent generation that could be potential flexibility service providers to contact flexibility@northernpowergrid.com and register their interest.  

Once registered the organisations can be considered to benefit from future revenue opportunities that support Northern Powergrid’s ‘Flexibility First’ approach, benefit the 3.9 million homes and businesses it delivers power to and help manage an increasingly active regional power network.

Flexibility services involve Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) paying customers to change their power generation or consumption in a way that helps to manage their distribution network and maximise the use of available capacity. This could involve shifting the time of energy usage (for example in a factory), supporting the local network with generation at short notice, or offering up the ability to charge empty energy storage with excess power. These services are a vital part of local power grid operations and are expected to increase in importance as adoption of renewable generation and other low carbon technologies grows. It also helps ensure the region’s existing power network is used as effectively as possible and reduces the need for customers to pay for costly infrastructure where a flexibility first approach can safely meet local electricity demands.

The announcement is part of Northern Powergrid’s continued commitment to developing a customer-centric flexibility services plan and aligns with its draft 2023-28 business plan which sets out how the company will manage the region’s power network from 2023 onwards and support the transition to net zero across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire. Openness and transparency is central to its plan, and Northern Powergrid is keen to provide as much early visibility as possible of where services may be purchased in the future. 

Wanted Flexibility Services - Nov 2021Joe Horgan, Commercial Manager for Flexibility Services at Northern Powergrid, commented: “We expect flexibility services to grow and become an important tool in how we manage a more active electricity network as technologies such as electric cars and renewable generation change the way our customers use electricity. Our flexibility markets are open to a wide range of connected customers including power generators, large users of electricity such as factories and supermarkets, electricity storage operators and also aggregators. We encourage anyone in our region who thinks they could be a flexibility provider to get in touch and register for updates on future revenue opportunities.”

Northern Powergrid has published a map highlighting 19 sites where its latest analysis shows flexibility services could potentially deliver network capacity benefits for customer between 2023-28.

Who could provide flexibility services?
Northern Powergrid can procure flexibility from any asset which meets the relevant technical requirements. This could include generators of electricity, or businesses that consume a lot of energy. All flexibility providers must meet certain minimum requirements to be able to participate in bidding to provide flexibility services. These requirements will be set out in more detail during the pre-qualification process for tenders, but include the following:

  • For a site to provide flexibility it must be located in the relevant position on the electricity distribution network – this includes connection voltage level and geographic location. This information is displayed for the 19 sites in this update in the table below
  • The flexibility asset(s) should be controllable and non-intermittent so that flexibility can be reliably provided in response to dispatch signals from Northern Powergrid

Detailed information on likely flexibility sites and voltage levels
Nov 2021 - FS locations table.jpgA link to this information is also available on the Flexible Power website. Flexible Power is a joint initiative from five UK Electricity Distribution Network Operators (DNOs); Western Power Distribution, Northern Powergrid, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, Scottish Power Energy Networks and Electricity North West.  

Flexible Power aims to standardise the operation of flexibility services across the networks of participating DNOs to simplify processes for flexibility providers, reduce costs and support the growth of flexibility services on UK electricity distribution networks.

What’s next?
During 2023-28 and possibly before, Northern Powergrid will be seeking flexibility services at some or all of these sites via competitive tenders. Any organisation that thinks it could be a flexibility provider and would like to hear more about opportunities to provide flexibility services in Northern Powergrid’s region, should contact flexibility@northernpowergrid.com and request to receive updates about future tender opportunities as soon as they are launched. 

In addition to the 19 locations, Northern Powergrid team would welcome the opportunity to hear from organisations in other parts of the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire who may be interested in finding out more about flexibility or have the potential to offer flexibility services to Northern Powergrid’s network in the future.