SSEN secures ‘huge increase’ in contracted flexibility

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution has revealed it has secured a further 433.6MW in flexibility contracts.

The latest figure, which is the result of January and February 2024’s bidding rounds, is equivalent to the electricity that could power more than 350,000 homes.

SSEN said this “huge increase” in contracted flexibility means that more than 700MW of flexibility services has been contracted during the past year.

In January, SSEN opened the bidding window for the first nine Constraint Managed Zones for ‘secure’ services – those obtained to reduce load on the network ahead of when it is expected to occur, and in all zones for ‘restore’ and ‘dynamic’ services which support the network after an outage.

In February, an additional ‘super’ zone was opened, covering parts of Reading and Hampshire.

Catherine Winning, flexibility manager at SSEN, said: “SSEN takes an efficient, and targeted approach to its procurement of flexibility services.

“With our effective Distribution Options Assessments giving us the vital information about where we need flexibility, we can work to secure it effectively. Flexibility services are a key part of our overall network plans, and we are looking to continue to expand where we procure it in the next year; more information on this is available in our procurement statement.

“It’s great to see the continued interest in our services, and we look forward to working with more providers in the coming months.”

Meanwhile UK Power Networks Distribution System Operator (DSO) has also announced it has awarded contracts amounting to 327MW across 127 sites, to 17 different flexibility providers in its latest tender.

This tender includes seven participants taking part for the first time. The DSO said it has also streamlined the process for market participants by simplifying registration and awarding a standard framework contract to providers. The changes, it explained, will make it easier for potential new providers to enter the marketplace.

Alex Howard, head of flexibility markets at UK Power Networks DSO, said: “The awarding of these contracts marks a major milestone in our efforts to widen participation. Vibrant and competitive local flexibility markets will support a sustainable and resilient future for all.

“We are demonstrating that increasing levels of liquidity in this fast-growing market is contributing to driving down prices for consumers. Our approach is fostering a competitive, inclusive market which is setting the benchmark for others. It highlights the critical role of innovation and flexibility in the transition towards a more sustainable energy future.”

Also commenting was Elizabeth Allkins, head of energy strategy at Ovo, who said: “UK Power Networks’ flexibility tender is an important step towards opening up routes to market for domestic flexibility. This is critical for enabling us to reach net zero at the lowest possible cost to consumers.

“We’re excited to work with UK Power Networks to continue to evolve this market to remove barriers to entry and offer our consumers innovative opportunities as the energy transition progresses.”

In January 2024 Utility Week established its Flexibility Forum, in association with our strategic partner CGI, to help break down barriers to energy flexibility growth and provide an independent setting for sense-checking the direction of travel in flexibility market governance and regulation. The Flexibility Forum community includes stakeholders from across the energy value chain. Outputs from the forum to date include a report of the status of demand side flexibility markets in GB and a review of the discussion at the Forum’s first meeting.