SSEN joins industry in commitment to ‘flexibility first’ approach

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has joined the electricity industry in its commitment to ‘flexibility first’ as it supports the transition to a smarter electricity system.

The Flexibility First Commitment, co-ordinated by the Energy Networks Association (ENA), means that all of Britain’s local electricity grid operators have committed to assess smart flexibility service markets when reviewing requirements for building significant new electricity network infrastructure.

The commitment covers all new relevant projects of significant value, where local electricity operators face congestion in grid infrastructure that results from increased electricity demand and distributed energy projects being connected to the grid.

SSEN commits to openly testing the market for those projects to see what flexibility services are available from smart technologies such as renewable energy generation, demand side response and energy efficiency measures, and compare the cost of using them against building new energy infrastructure.

The move will help open up new opportunities for smart energy technology to compete with and complement traditional forms of energy network infrastructure such as new pylons, transformers and substations. This technology forms part of a wider digital transformation of energy networks, where network operators use smart energy services and data to manage much less predictable patterns of electricity supply and demand.

Stewart Reid, Head of DSO and Innovation at SSEN, said:

“SSEN is delighted to support the Flexibility First Commitment, and the continued transition to a smart, flexible and efficient energy system that enables a low carbon economy.

“Electric vehicles, distributed generation, energy storage and demand side response have the potential to fundamentally change the sector in which we operate, and provide exciting opportunities for both businesses, and households. I welcome this industry-wide commitment to work toward and deliver cost-efficient outcomes for our customers.”

National Infrastructure Commission research shows that using these smart technologies to provide services to Britain’s electricity grid could avoid many of the costs of building new energy infrastructure, including new power stations, saving the British public up to £8bn a year by 2030.

Through the Open Networks Project, local electricity network operators are also redefining the long-term roles and responsibilities of electricity network companies to enable new markets for flexibility services.

With fully developed flexibility markets, examples of how those technologies might be used by households and businesses include:

  • Households charging their electric vehicles at off-peak times or when it is sunniest, whilst other households’ domestic solar panels are generating electricity.
  • Businesses striking demand-side response agreements to adjust their electricity use at the times of day when they least need it, helping reduce the need and cost of building new infrastructure.
  • Using battery storage to help network operators proactively manage a rapidly changing electricity grid where electricity now flows in many different directions, rather than in just one as it has done in the past.

SSEN’s ‘Supporting a Smarter Electricity System’ report outlines the principles SSEN will adhere to in its transition from a Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to Distribution System Operator (DSO) and can be viewed here.

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Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.7 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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