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Flexitricity hails milestone as first VLP to trade in the new BM

Flexitricity aggregated Philip Dennis Foodservice’s two batteries. Image: Flexitricity.

Flexitricity aggregated Philip Dennis Foodservice’s two batteries. Image: Flexitricity.

Flexitricity has become the first Virtual Lead Party (VLP) to trade in the Balancing Mechanism (BM) since the wider access agreements were brought in.

National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) and ELEXON opened up the BM last December, allowing smaller providers to take part in the important flexibility tool.

Announced yesterday (23 April), Flexitricity has become the first VLP to trade, utilising power from the company’s partner Philip Dennis Foodservice.

Roisin Quinn, head of National Control at National Grid ESO, said the transformation was "central" to the way the ESO balances the system today.

“Particularly as we work to meet some of the challenges associated with balancing the system in lockdown conditions – and forms an important part of being able to operate carbon free by 2025,” she added.

Following a call from National Grid ESO for energy, Flexitricity aggregated Philip Dennis Foodservice’s two batteries, making the company the first in a new wave of BM participants.

The family-owned wholesale food business has a Tesla energy storage system at its site in Mullacott, and a BYD battery adjacent to another of their sites at Roundswell. These are remotely managed from Flexitricity’s 24/7 control room in Edinburgh.

The trade is being lauded as an important milestone for the BM and real time flexibility in the UK, with smaller aggregators helping to make the system more agile.

Changing the BM has opened it up to a broad range of VLP, including EV users, domestic heating and energy storage, district heating, renewables and community energy projects, and industrial and commercial flexibility such as refrigeration, HVAC and lighting.

Quinn added that this wider access would allow new providers and technologies to become part of the electricity market and make it “smarter and more flexible as we shift away from traditional large thermal power generation to cleaner, decentralised power".

Flexitricity is able to monitor and remotely operate Philip Dennis Foodservice’s batteries, charging or discharging them as the grid requires. The trading opens up new revenue streams for companies like Philip Dennis, as well as helping the grid transition smoothly to renewable energy.

Andy Lowe, director at Flexitricity, said they were “delighted” to be the first to trade in the BM using this new route to market.

“Our focus has always been to build a decentralised, greener and fairer energy system where all energy users benefit – not just the big suppliers. It’s hugely rewarding to see that that’s now becoming a reality. Philip Dennis Foodservice – a small, family-owned business – is traded as part of our virtual power plant in the same, lucrative market the ‘Big Six’ are trading in. It’s a perfect example of the progress we’ve made as an industry over the last few years.

“Now as at any other time, our energy system needs customer-side flexibility to be both secure and green which is why it was important to us to be able to reach this milestone despite the situation with COVID-19. We were delighted to have successfully onboarded the Philip Dennis Foodservices sites remotely during the lockdown period.”

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