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UKPN awards £14m worth of flexibility contracts in UK's largest ever tender

Smart wires. Image: UKPN.

Smart wires. Image: UKPN.

UK Power Networks (UKPN) has announced the results of the biggest flexibility tender ever, with £14 million worth of contracts signed.

This amounts to 123MW of flexible power, with the 2019/2020 tender covering 55 high voltage zones and 60 low voltage zones. These serve 10% of the network's customers, representative of two million homes and businesses.

Of these, 16 different providers have now gained contracts for 42 of the high voltages zones and 15 of the low voltage areas tendered. These represent the first low voltage flexibility agreements for an energy network in the world.

The providers include a range of different flexibility solutions, including battery storage, virtual power plants and heat pumps, according to UKPN.

Head of smart grid development Sotiris Georgiopoulos said the round demonstrated the enthusiasm there is to take part in the UK flexibility market.

“Three years ago we set out our Flexibility Roadmap and hitting more than 100MW is an important milestone that shows the market is really gathering pace. We could not have reached this without working really closely with the industry to co-design the products we’re offering and make the market open, transparent and accessible.

“Flexibility is the future because it is arguably the single most important element of a decarbonised smart electricity network. It gives us the flexibility we need to enable more renewable energy and forms a crucial element of the journey towards Net Zero.”

UKPN launched the tender on energy start-up Piclo’s platform Flex last November, stating it highlighted the company's commitment to low carbon distributed energy resources.

Piclo CEO and co-founder James Johnston added: "DSO flexibility markets are essential for the cost-effective decarbonisation of the UK's energy system. The success of this auction and our continued partnership with UK Power Networks is a big step towards reaching the UK's net-zero carbon targets.”

The network operator has been working to develop its role in the flexibility market since 2018, when it launched its Flexibility First initiative. Since 2019, it has awarded 22 companies flexibility contracts worth more than £14.5 million, securing 142.3MW of power, up to 2027.

This includes an agreement made earlier this year to source flexibility from Social Energy's virtual power plant, made up of solar-powered domestic batteries.

In 2019, UKPN’s maiden flexibility tender on Piclo Flex saw contracts worth £450,000 awarded to AMP Clean Energy, Limejump, Powervault and Moixa.


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