Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has announced plans to procure flexibility services across its entire network after becoming the first distribution network operator (DNO) to join the Piclo Flex platform on a commercial basis.

The agreement follows the completion of a government-sponsored trial of the online marketplace involving all six of the DNOs in Great Britain.

The firm says flexibility services could be provided by a wide variety of resources including small-scale renewables, electric vehicles, demand-side response and even energy efficiency measures.

SSEN head of future networks Stewart Reid said: “SSEN is committed to being a neutral facilitator of local and national markets that are created by the transition to a flexible network.

“To do this successfully visibility, transparency and accessibility will be key. Too often asset owners that may be considering providing flexibility services find that the process is neither clear nor simple.

“With Piclo we are hoping to address that challenge, to provide the communities in which we operate a level-playing field that supports local solutions and builds a network of flexibility providers.”

James Johnston, Piclo co-founder and chief executive added: “Piclo was founded in response to the growing problems posed by UK electricity grid congestion which is restricting growth of low-carbon power, causing significant costs to consumers.

“Whilst some physical changes to the network will be required as we decarbonise, Piclo’s platform significantly reduces the need for new investment, minimising the cost to the consumer whilst maximising the role of flexible, low-carbon plant in the overall mix.

“This deal will hopefully be the first of many, not only in the UK but with other grids across the globe which suffer from the same limitations. The potential reach for our software is enormous.”

During the earlier pilot SSEN limited its call for flexibility to six areas it dubbed “constraint managed zones”. From now on, the DNO will seek out services wherever they are needed on its network, allowing more people to benefit from the “tremendous opportunities” created by the transformation of the energy system.

It will initially procure four flexibility services:

  • Prevent – to manage constraints during periods of peak demand.
  • Prepare – to support the network during planned maintenance work.
  • Respond – to support the network during fault conditions as a result of maintenance work.
  • Restore – to support the network during faults that occur as a result of equipment failure.

Another three are expected to be launched in late 2019.

Providers will typically receive both utilisation and availability payments. SSEN expects them to be worth around £300/MWh on average.