Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is to trial a new online marketplace for local flexibility hosted by Open Utility.

The service will enable the distribution network operator (DNO) to manage network constraints by buying flexible capacity from providers such as battery operators and demand-side response aggregators.

Open Utility said the marketplace will unlock new revenue streams for homes, businesses and communities, whilst supporting the decarbonisation of the energy system.

The procurement of flexibility to manage network constraints is a key pillar in SSEN’s transformation into a distribution system operator (DSO).

Open Utility was awarded more than £400,000 to trial the service by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in October. In January, UK Power Networks became the first DNO to sign up.

The trial will start at the end of May, when a limited number of flexibility providers will be able to register to participate via Open Utility’s website.

Trading will not begin until later in 2018 but will continue throughout the rest of year. The company is aiming to launch the service commercially in 2019.

“Unlike other industries like short-term rentals and taxi services, the energy sector cannot be transformed by an online marketplace acting alone, but through meaningful partnerships with incumbents working towards a common goal,” said Open Utility chief executive and co-founder James Johnston.

“We are uniquely positioned to understand the disruptive forces of digital technology and the evolving needs of the highly complex energy system. Our partnership with SSEN reflects this understanding.”

DSO transition manager for SSEN, Steve Atkins, said: “We are delighted to partner with Open Utility in support of their innovative Piclo platform which will provide invaluable insight to help inform our transition to a DSO and the new opportunities this will create for our customers through peer-to-peer and flexibility trading.”

Open Utility already runs a peer-to-peer trading platform called Piclo which was launched in 2015 following a BEIS sponsored trial.

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