This is the second in our series on local flexibility drawing on the experience of Open Utility in developing an online marketplace for local flexibility.
When we first discussed this series of blogs and infographics, one of the questions we asked ourselves was “what is the problem local flexibility is needed to address?”.
Developers of distributed generation have become familiar with DNOs advising that areas of the network are at capacity. What this means is the assets and infrastructure that DNOs have responsibility for (i.e. cables, substations and ancillary equipment) are assessed, under certain network conditions, as running close to or above their technical limits (i.e. voltage thresholds or operating temperatures).
The trials we highlighted in our first blog are developing the capability for DNOs to act as neutral market facilitators, paying distributed energy resources to provide solutions to network constraints, rather than carrying out expensive reinforcements to the network.
Local flexibility can aid in the planning and running of an efficient network, in particular by:
Removing a capacity constraint on the network enabling more generation or demand to connect.
Helping DNOs manage their network in response to events such as faults or bad weather
Enabling DNOs to ensure their network is operated within its voltage, thermal and fault level constraint limits as required in their licence conditions.
Understanding the nature of the network constraints DNOs are addressing will be key to understanding when, where, how often and how quickly providers will need to be able to respond. The recent call from Electricity North West, for example, is focused on addressing excess demand at certain substations and is looking for distributed energy resources that can respond to reduce demand in the afternoon and evening of winter days for a maximum of 40 hours a year.
The third blog in our series will be looking who will be participating in local flexibility marketplaces.