UK Power Networks (UKPN) has officially launched its largest Flexibility Tender to date aiming to unlock 500MW of capacity across the network.
In doing so, the UKPN is hoping the additional flexibility capacity will enable the connection of more renewable generation sources in addition to low-carbon technologies including EVs and more.
The distribution network operator (DNO) is procuring flexibility across 1,000 areas in London, the South East and the East of England. In these regions, customers can opt in to be paid for ‘flexibility’ during periods of peak electricity consumption or excess renewable generation by changing the pattern of energy use.
Flexibility will be in local areas in which electric generation demand is expected to outstrip the capacity of substations and cables. The DNO will launch the tender via Piclo with registrants asked to sign up by 31 January 2023.
“This is a critical time for all energy networks. We need to accommodate more electric vehicles and heat pumps, along with the continued growth of solar and wind generation,” said Sotiris Georgiopoulos, head of smart grid development at UK Power Networks.
“We have been using flexibility since 2017 to accommodate growth in demand for electricity, but for the first time we will also use it to help more renewables connect and generate electricity, something no other operator has done at the scale we’re proposing.
“This is a key part of our wider plans to support the transition to net zero at lowest cost. Our latest business plan excluded more than £400 million of network investment on the basis that we plan to manage many parts of our network more cost-effectively using flexibility. These are real savings which are being passed on directly to bill payers.”
UKPN has already awarded £44.5 million worth of flexibility contracts to 29 companies for almost 500MW of peak power up to 2028, having run its first flexibility tender in 2019.
Additionally, last December it announced plans to establish an independent DSO, with flexibility at its heart.
DNOs are tendering for increasingly large amounts of flexibility to manage the increased number of low-carbon technologies on the grid, with Western Power Distribution launching a flexibility tender for 278.34MW in January, SP Energy Networks accepting 555MW of bids of flexibility services in November, and Electricity North West calling for 259MW of flexibility in November, for example.