Northern Powergrid

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03 February 2022


03 February 2022

Northern Powergrid has confirmed the 19 locations where it intends to procure flexibility services in the short to medium term, up to the mid-2020s. Generators of electricity, businesses that consume significant amounts of energy and electricity supply aggregators are among those invited to express interest in providing flexibility services to the electricity network operator across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.

What are flexibility services?
Flexibility services involves Distribution Network Operators, such as Northern Powergrid, paying customers to change their power generation or consumption patterns in a way that helps to manage peaks in generation and demand on the electricity network. This enables better value out of the existing network and from new investments in network infrastructure, and so provides value for all customers. For the customer providing the flexibility services, this could involve shifting the time of energy usage (for example in a factory), or supporting the local network with generation, or offering up the ability to charge empty energy storage with excess power.

Why is Northern Powergrid calling for flexibility services?
Launched today, the call provides early visibility of where Northern Powergrid may purchase flexibility in the future so that customers can understand the opportunities for them to develop a new income stream. The call is open to any interested customer in the region who has the ability to modify their energy consumption and/or production of energy in real time.  Northern Powergrid would like to hear from all interested parties, large or small, whether already connected to the network or considering a new connection.

Liz Sidebotham, Commercial Manager for New Markets at Northern Powergrid, commented: “We know that decarbonising the UK’s electricity, heating and transport sectors will mean additional load on the electricity system and more intermittent renewable generation. Flexibility from our customers can be part of the solution to cost effectively manage these changes and the impact on our network. The commitment in our 2023-2028 business plan to a ‘flexibility first’ approach means that we will always seek to identify flexibility services as an option ahead of building significant new electricity network infrastructure. We expect flexibility services to grow and become an increasingly important tool in how we manage the electricity network as the low- carbon transition accelerates with technologies such as electric cars, heat pumps, batteries and renewable generation changing the way our customers generate and use electricity.”

This call is a stepping stone to Northern Powergrid procuring flexibility services at some or all of these 19 sites via competitive tenders in mid-2022 and again in subsequent years.

Who could provide flexibility services?
Flexibility markets are open to a wide range of customers including power generators, large users of electricity such as factories and supermarkets, electricity storage operators and also aggregators.

  • For a site to provide flexibility it must be located in the relevant position on the electricity distribution network – this includes connection voltage level and geographic location. This information is displayed for the 19 sites in this update in the table below.
  • The flexibility asset(s) should be controllable and non-intermittent so that flexibility can be reliably provided in response to dispatch signals from Northern Powergrid.

Details of flexibility requirements and locations
Northern Powergrid’s flexibility requirements vary by location. The table below sets out the locations, power requirements and time windows where the company is are interested in having flexibility contracts in place that it could call on as and when required within those windows. Both of these factors will influence which customers may be interested in getting involved.

Flex locations Feb 2022

For example in Gainsborough the need is for flexibility just in the late afternoon on weekend days in the winter months of December to March. In contrast, at Knottingley it is needed all day, every day, all year round.

A portfolio of providers could together deliver the full flexibility requirement, and so Northern Powergrid is interested in hearing from providers even if they are able to deliver only part of the required capacity for part of the time window.

The 19 areas are where analysis has indicated that there is a likelihood that Northern Powergrid will need to take action soon or in the short to medium term. However, it is possible that there will be other parts of our network where needs will emerge that were previously unforeseen (for example, in the case of a significant increase in a major industrial electricity user’s demand). For that reason, Northern Powergrid would like to hear from customers with the capability to provide controllable dispatchable flexibility anywhere within its wider operating region of the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.

What’s next?
Any organisation that thinks it may be able to provide flexibility services to Northern Powergrid should contact by Friday 18 March. Northern Powergrid will then follow up to discuss the opportunities, the customer’s capabilities, and the technical requirements to become a flexibility service provider. Updates will also be provided about future tender opportunities as soon as they are launched.