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UKPN unveils £50m funding package as it opens its largest-ever flexibility tender

Image: UKPN.

Image: UKPN.

UK Power Networks (UKPN) has unveiled a £50 million funding package as part of its largest-ever open tender for flexibility.

It is seeking a total of 250MW of flexible capacity covering more than 130 sites. This includes its first ever extra high voltage sites for tender, which it said offers a potential opening of the market to a host of new entrants.

The DNO is looking for sites across three licence areas in London, the South East and East of England, and tendering for contracts that will last up to 2028, covering system needs through the network price control period 2023-28.

Contracts range from traditional – which offer certainty of a set fee for a set service – to more flexible, with these allowing provides to make decisions about participating closer to the time.

Pre-qualification for the new tender round close on 8 December, with the competition set to run 11-20 January 2021 on the Piclo Flex platform.

Sotiris Georgiopoulos, head of smart grid development at UKPN, said the company was “forging ahead” with an “open, transparent and accessible” flexibility market.

“We are now opening more sites backed by more funding than ever before, and for the first ever time in the UK at every level from low voltage to extra high voltage.

“A huge part of our success so far has been because we have co-designed the market with the very people participating in it, which has led to a host of innovations such as contracts ranging from six months to seven years in length, and minimum volumes of just 10kW to participate.”

The flexibility market is growing fast, as network operators look to distributed energy resources such as batteries and demand side response to manage variable generation from renewables without the need to build new substations and lay more cables, thereby keeping costs low.

UKPN’s tender follows its previous biggest flexibility tender ever earlier in 2020, with £14 million worth of contracts announced in June amounting to 123MW of flexible power.

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