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WPD launches domestic flexibility pilot Sustain-H

Customers with EV chargepoints are the most popular option for participation. Image: Getty.

Customers with EV chargepoints are the most popular option for participation. Image: Getty.

Western Power Distribution (WPD) has launched a new domestic flexibility pilot, designed to enable customers to save money and help the DNO manage demand.

Dubbed Sustain-H, the scheme differs from other flexibility services as it does not just ask providers to drop demand by a specific amount. Instead it asks them to drop to – or below – a pre-agreed level at a pre-agreed time, and remain at that level for four hours.

Eight providers – Ecotricity, EDF and Octopus Energy, Kaluza, SMS, Stemy Energy, ev.energy and myenergi – have already signed up for the pilot, which is four times the number WPD had hoped for originally. Five of these will go live in November, whilst the final three will come online in March 2021.

Felicity Jones, partner at Everoze, said: “We were hoping to sign-up two flexibility providers at first – and were overwhelmed by industry response. July was a very hectic month of calls. What’s struck me is the diversity of participants seeking to own the customer relationship.”

Sustain-H was designed collaboratively by WPD, Everoze and SGC during the spring lockdown, and is the first of WPD’s flexibility trials to be focused on domestic customers specifically.

“Our key design principles were simplicity and inclusivity, in response to industry feedback,” said Matt Watson, Innovation & Low Carbon Networks engineer at WPD. “For instance, we’ve sought to be inclusive by being open to both smart meters and asset-meters.”

Image: WPD.
Image: WPD.

The scheme is being procured in Constraint Management Zones within the Midlands, South West and Wales, with customers in these regions able to earn around £10 a year for homes with electric vehicle chargepoints and up to £60 for those with a full suite of flexibility technologies including heat pumps and batteries.

The design of Sustain-H has been supported by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance, but the service payments are being funded by WPD’s core business budget.

Watson explained: “We’ve sought to align with our business-as-usual team wherever possible to enable a clear pathway to commercialisation. So we’re using the standardised service contract being rolled out across Distribution System Operators and we’re basing tariffs on those already used for other WPD flex contracts.”

WPD has a number of flexibility trials underway, including its IntraFlex project which recently celebrated a major milestone having procured more than 50MW of flexibility services over two months in the first phase of the project.

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