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SPEN launches GB's first USEF-compliant local flexibility market

The local flexibility market forms part of SP Energy Networks' Project FUSION. Image: SPEN

The local flexibility market forms part of SP Energy Networks' Project FUSION. Image: SPEN

SP Energy Networks (SPEN) has become the first company to successfully deploy a fully-functioning Universal Smart Energy Framework (USEF)-compliant flexibility market in GB.

USEF provides the basics for a unified smart energy market and helps to ensure projects and technologies are connected at the lowest cost.

With the implementation of a USEF-compliant flexibility market, SPEN is generating what it said are timely and useful learnings that could play a significant role in influencing how the UK reaches its world-leading climate change targets, as well as the transition of the distribution network operators (DNOs) to distribution system operators.

Additionally, the smarter use of the network can result in improved cost-effectiveness, the potential for customers to generate additional income by agreeing to be flexible with their energy use and potentially accelerate the connection of low carbon technologies.

The deployment of the local flexibility market – which is located in East Fife, Scotland – forms a key objective of SPEN’s £5.7 million Project FUSION, which is looking at pioneering ways to operate the electricity distribution network.

As part of the trial - which is now live - SPEN is tendering for 4.5MW of flexibility capacity across Leuchars and St Andrews in Fife.

Engie Power and Orange Power are to act as aggregators, acting on behalf of customers to trade their electricity consumption and generation flexibility in a new digital marketplace.

The local flexibility market is expected to operate at least until the middle of 2023, with various interim learning reports to be published over the next two years, culminating in a final comprehensive close-down report in October 2023.

"Project FUSION enables us to make better use of existing electricity infrastructure by interacting with customers smartly," said Graham Campbell, director of processes and technology at SP Energy Networks.

"Learnings from the trial will quantify the benefits and inform the transition towards a more standardised market. This would encourage participation and competition while lowering the costs of flexibility to save our customers money."

Local flexibility is being trialled by a number of companies, with the £40 million Project Local Energy Oxfordshire (LEO) beginning flexibility market trials this year. This aims to examine how new competitive markets can be developed for low-carbon technologies, and is run by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), the Low Carbon Hub, the University of Oxford and Oxford City and Oxfordshire County Councils alongside five other partners.

Alongside this, the Urban Energy Club - run by UK Power Networks, EDF and Repowering London - began offering simulated flexibility services after the installation of a new battery in June.

Meanwhile, Project FUSION was highlighted by SPEN in its digitalisation strategy, published in 2019, as an example of efforts already made to ramp up digitalisation, with the project requiring accurate data and system automation.

Earlier this year, Opus One Solutions was chosen to develop and deploy the flexibility solution for the project, with this following on from fellow DNO SSEN awarding Opus One Solutions a contract to develop and deploy solutions to test different flexibility market models.

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