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National Grid ESO unveils new contracts to reduce renewables output

Image: National Grid.

Image: National Grid.

National Grid ESO is ramping up its toolkit for reducing demand as it launches a Downward Flexibility Management service for renewables and announces a new contract with EDF.

The ESO has been gearing up for a potential emergency event tomorrow (8 May) as a mix of factors, including low demand caused by the COVID-19 lockdown - which could be further exacerbated by the bank holiday - could merge to create “exceptionally” low demand on the day.

It is also, however, preparing for the long haul with a period of low demand expected as lockdown measures continue. As a result, it has launched a Downward Flexibility Management Service, offering small scale renewable generators additional commercial agreements to reduce their output.

The agreements are voluntary, the ESO said, but added that they will give it additional flexibility in balancing supply and demand during the current period.

In addition, National Grid ESO has also sealed a deal with EDF to reduce the output of its Sizewell B nuclear power station. The two have signed a one off fixed contract to reduce the output, a different approach to the usual daily payments made via the Balancing Mechanism.

The agreement will run alongside the ESO’s existing balancing of all forms of electricity generation, it said, but added that it is a “more cost efficient and secure outcome for consumers”.

Sizewell B comes in at 1,198MW, with EDF to halve its output for at least six weeks.

The ESO also pointed the proposed modification to the Grid Code to clarify its ability to disconnect embedded generation in an emergency event as another measure it is taking.

This proposal has been criticised due to those generators not receiving any form of compensation - an issue seemingly now addressed by the introduction of the commercial contracts for the separate Downward Flexibility Management Service - as well as the short time frame in which feedback from the industry could be given.

However, the Energy Networks Association did welcome “practical changes to the way the system is operated”, which it said will help to provide more security in an emergency event.

A decision is due from Ofgem on the proposal today (7 May) to allow for implementation ahead of tomorrow’s bank holiday if approved.

Roisin Quinn, head of national control and chief engineer at National Grid ESO, lauded the tools and processes the ESO control room has as making Britain's electricity system "one of the most reliable in the world" but warned that "we can't be complacent", which is why the new tools have been developed.

"These are aimed at enabling the continued supply of safe, secure and reliable electricity in any scenario and mean we can operate the system efficiently as possible for consumers too," Quinn added.

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