Western Power Distribution’s (WPD) project Intraflex has allowed flexibility services in a local distribution network to be traded in close to real-time continuously, allowing market prices to be determined for the first time, it said.
During the project’s second phase, Flexibility Service Providers (FSPs) – including those with low carbon technologies such as electric vehicle (EV) charging units and battery storage – were able to compete against diesel generators on price, whereas previously auctions have focused on the commercial market.
Therefore the market shaped the price of flexibility, and led to savings of up to 4% on the cost of flexibility through price competition.
The trial also lowered the barriers to entry for low carbon technologies such as electric vehicle (EV) charging assets who were allowed to take part for the first time. The trial gave a glimpse of the future, with the installation of EV chargers and heat pump connections expected to increase substantially in coming years.
WPD’s RIIO-ED2 plan predicts an additional 1.5 million EVs and 600,000 heat pumps are to be connected to its network by 2028. By utilising the growth of such assets for flexibility, the operator can reduce costs to customers over the long term while minimising the need for network reinforcements.
Roger Hey, WPD electricity system manager, expects an increase of near real-time flexibility services to be procured from domestic energy suppliers as well as EV charging providers.
“Intraflex has proven to be a ground-breaking project with some compelling evidence for the future of what a market for flexibility could look like with competition emerging and the potential for reductions in cost to consumers as a result.”
During phase one of the Intraflex project, more than 50MW of flexibility services were bought across 241 trades, while more than 770MW of flexibility services were procured across almost 1,200 trades during phase two.
Richard Sarti, director of sales and marketing at NODES, a partner of the Intraflex project, said the project paved the way for a standardised market design for the activation of flexibility, where low carbon technologies can compete on a level playing field via an independent marketplace.
“This will enable the distribution system operator to buy flexibility at the lowest price offered on any given day, whilst enabling different forms of flexibility assets to offer their availability across multiple markets.”