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WPD flexibility trial IntraFlex celebrates milestone

Image: Andy Beecroft.

Image: Andy Beecroft.

More than 50MW of flexibility services were procured over two months in the first phase of Western Power Distribution’s (WPD) IntraFlex project.

Now concluded, the DNO along with the other companies involved – NODES AS and Smart Grid Consulting – can begin to evaluate the takeaways from the trial, which looked at the buying and selling of flexibility in a continuous short-term market, to bring new routes to market for flexibility providers.

WPD’s Matt Watson, who is managing the IntraFlex project, said the use of a continuously clearing marketplace presents numerous opportunities in terms of how the DNP procures services.

“The work in Phase One has shown it can be done, helped us build our understanding and has highlighted a number of ways forward.”

The 50MW of flexibility was procured across 241 trades on NODES ShortFlex market. WPD submitted requirements on Mondays and Fridays, allowing participant to responsd and make offers of flexibility services on the NODES platform.

One key learning from Phase One was the variability in how participants could capitalise on the service. Some bids were matched in less than ten minutes, while others were only matched a couple of hours before the required delivery period, according to WPD.

Phase One showed difference in the behaviour of participants based on the technology used for flexibility, with peaking gas generators behaving a markedly different way to domestic scale providers. This is largely due to the volume and timing of requirements more than price, but feedback suggested that this is likely to change as processes mature and volumes increase.

Sofia Eng, project manager at NODES, said the IntraFlex project was a big stop forwards for building a “market place where different types of flexibility can compete on a level playing field and where DNOs like WPD can buy flexibility when it is needed, where it is needed and at a fair price".

“We have seen, for the first time, flexibility being bought, sold and settled between the DNO and flexibility providers in a closer to real-time continuous market place. We look forward to continuing this work with all of the stakeholders involved in the project as part of Phase 2 and we would encourage others who are interested in knowing more to get in contact and get involved in the next phase.”

Phase Two will follow next year, with recruitment expected to start for assets that can reduce demand or increase generation at peak times, and which can be contracted directly or via aggregators, suppliers or other third parties, in the New Year.

Watson added: “Following the success of Phase One of the trial, we are delighted to confirm that we will be continuing into Phase Two in spring 2021. This will focus on increasing the flexibility volumes on the platform as well as tweaking the platform and the surrounding processes to make them more scalable and easier to roll out."

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