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Northern Powergrid joins Piclo Flex with eye on national flexibility procurement

Image: Piclo.

Image: Piclo.

Northern Powergrid has become the latest distribution network operator (DNO) to sign up to the flexibility procurement platform Piclo Flex and identify flexible assets across its network.

Four DNOs have now adopted the platform as networks move steadily towards a ‘flexibility first’ approach which has seen much of the energy sector rally around.

UK Power Networks is to run its next flexibility tender on what it dubbed the “online dating” service for DNOs and distributed energy resources (DERs), while Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks and Electricity North West are engaging with the platform.

Northern Powergrid will work with Piclo, formerly Open Utility, to assess the customer benefits of flexibility services within its operating areas while and exploring new routes by which customers wishing to provide services can connect.

This assessment will inform an overarching flexibility strategy for the company as it transitions to being a proactive Distribution System Operator (DSO).

“As we march towards the transition to DSO we are particularly interested in the potential benefits that flexibility service procurement can bring to the eight million people in our region,” explained Jim Cardwell, head of policy development for Northern Powergrid.

“We hear from customers that in order to grow local flexibility markets, we need to show the value available and make it easy to participate. Joining the Piclo Flex platform is one of the ways in which we are working towards these objectives.”

This work will be steered by the DNO’s newly appointed commercial development manager, Andrew McKenna, who joins from Drax where he rose to senior regulatory analyst over a four year period.

“Flexibility and its potential interaction with the distribution network is a fascinating topic from both an engineering and social perspective. It’s a great time to be working with our customers and re-tasking our increasingly smart assets as we step in to a future where customer flexibility assists the operation of the local grid,” McKenna said.

He will now seek to engage with potential flexibility providers in the region in the coming months before publishing details of where the DNO would like to procure future services on the Piclo Flex platform.

Northern Powergrid also hopes to assess the potential for a national flexibility procurement platform for the benefit of those with a portfolio of distributed energy resources.

McKenna concluded: “Through time, we hope to see convergence on flexibility practices. As such, it is good for us to test the market through a platform where national-scale collaboration is already taking place.”

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