Project Local Energy Oxfordshire (LEO), led by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution, has revealed key recommendations from its grid flexibility trials to create an “energy system of the future.”
Launched in April 2019, the four-year project was given the green light to participate in flexibility market trials in 2021 to replicate a future energy system and investigate how ‘grid edge’ flexibility can make full use of network capacity.
In collaboration with nine partners from business, academia, local government and social enterprise, SSEN ran a number of flexible electricity trials in the UK.
The place based and energy asset trails tested: new and flexible models; advanced network capabilities to enable smart and storage technologies; as well as facilitating local participation in the energy system.
In November 2022, the project reached a key milestone, running its first end-to-end automated flexibility procurement process.
Using the project’s findings, SSEN published its key recommendations. These include:
- Local Area Energy Plans should be mandatory – convened by local authorities with access to appropriate resourcing, to develop a ‘whole systems’ informed by the priorities of the local community.
- Aggregators are essential for the future of flexibility markets – aggregators, in the widest sense, can offer skills and expertise that will be “core” to delivering a just transition and enabling flexibility at the grid edge.
- Standardise flexibility markets – different contracts across distribution network officers adds complexity of schedules and makes the markets less attractive.
- V2G needs to be encouraged – the trail demonstrated that V2G can support vulnerable customers and during power outages.
- Holistic behind the meter approach – a quick scaling of hyper-local products is required, with these products evolving from ‘retrofit’ to ‘futurefit’, considering long-term benefits over immediate costs.
“Project LEO was ambitious in its scope from the start, taking a ‘whole systems’ approach at a local level and trialling how local assets, such as buildings and local communities can use smart, clean technologies to help balance the local network. In doing so we identified benefits to residents, local communities, energy generators and electricity networks, but we also found ways in which the policy and regulatory frameworks could better support the transition to net zero,” said Mel Bryce, Oxfordshire programme director for SSEN Distribution.
“Our report published today sets out the measures to speed progress on technical, commercial, social and regulatory areas. To deliver a decarbonised electricity system in just a dozen years, I encourage policymakers to be bold: take action now to ensure the knowledge, skills and markets are in place. I look forward to building on our learnings to help embed LEO learnings in the UK’s net zero future.”