Online marketplace will help distribution network operators to actively manage local grids

Open Utility has been awarded £412,500 by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to develop a new online marketplace for local flexibility.

The service will facilitate the active management of local grids by distribution network operators (DNOs) – a key element in their transformation into distribution system operators (DSOs).

“As the energy system evolves into one that is decentralised and decarbonised the role of the local distribution companies will change fundamentally,” said former SSE chief executive and Open Utility investor, Ian Marchant.

“Local and peer-to-peer energy and flexibility markets will play a leading role in this change and I am delighted the BEIS are sponsoring this key piece of preparatory work with Open Utility.”

The company says the service will help DNOs to engage with customers and maximise participation in flexibility tenders – ensuring that they provide benefits over traditional grid reinforcement.

It will also provide an interface for interactions with other interested parties, such as system operator National Grid, and enable the automation of tender processes using resource optimisation algorithms.

Open Utility will be running a consultation to ensure that the service suits the needs of a wide range of stakeholders, including demand-response aggregators, battery manufacturers, energy suppliers, distributed generators, project developers, electric vehicle manufacturers and technology suppliers. The company is currently in talks with a number of DNOs about joining a trial later this year.

The development grant from BEIS was awarded through the department’s Energy Entrepreneurs Fund (EEF). Open Utility was granted EEF funding in 2014 to trial a peer-to-peer energy trading platform called Piclo. The platform was launched in partnership with Good Energy in 2015.

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