Western Power Distribution (WPD) has updated its distribution system operator (DSO) strategy, focusing on developing neutral markets and incentivising domestic flexibility.
The strategy is split into two workstreams, the first of these being System Operator Functions, which focuses on the deployment of new systems and solutions to operate and maintain efficient, economic and co-ordinated networks.
WPD is to deliver solutions using a top-down approach, targeting 132kV, 66kV and 33kV networks as a priority while incrementally upgrading the rest of the network to meet customer demands. As part of this workstream, WPD is working on a number of projects to develop analytical tools and provide data in a user-friendly format for flexibility participants.
The second workstream is DSO Enablers, where WPD will deliver activities and functions to support the development of neutral markets and flexibility. This could include the supply of data for a market or aiding the connection of low carbon technologies as well as development systems for smarter real-time network reconfiguration and optimisation.
WPD is hoping that the development of neutral markets will help to foster more dynamic and competitive flexibility services, as well as reward innovative companies for increased flexibility while incentivising energy consumers to make smarter, low energy choices.
The updated approach to DSO services reflects a broader shift in the UK electricity system, WPD said, from a passive arrangement based on carbon-emitting baseload generation, towards a more diverse system incorporating more renewable distributed generation and storage.
WPD's initial DSO Strategy - released in 2017- detailed its plan to expand the services it provides and incorporate areas such as flexibility services procurement, grid resilience improvements and greater network efficiency.
By making it easier for third parties to deliver flexibility services, WPD is aiming to promote increased competition and deliver additional network capacity to connect greater volumes of renewable distributed generation, energy storage solutions and other low carbon technologies like heat pumps and electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.
The DNO pointed to the work it has already done in developing DSO services through the Flexible Power brand, which was initially created and developed by WPD.
In May, Electricity North West became the fifth DNO to join the national flexibility market platform. Over 450MW of flexibility has been unlocked through Flexible Power, according to WPD, enabling the connection of renewable generators and the charging of thousands of EVs in zones that serve nearly two million customers.
WPD is also continuing to develop and test new services, with the Network Innovation Allowance FutureFlex and Intraflex projects demonstrating the potential for widespread integration of domestic flexibility and nearer real-time trading of services.
“By supporting a new generation of energy pioneers, opening up our network data and providing a neutral and trusted market infrastructure through our Flexible Power brand, WPD is supercharging the UK’s journey towards net zero, maximising the utilisation of existing infrastructure through flexibility and active network management, all while keeping household energy bills low," said Paul Jewell, WPD system development manager