Industry-first agreement unlocks “Proactive Flexibility” to build a smarter electricity network

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) and Piclo have today announced an industry-first agreement, unlocking new opportunities for businesses, households and communities based in SSEN’s distribution regions, to be paid for the provision of flexibility services. These services could range from small-scale renewables, battery storage, electric vehicles, demand side response and even energy efficiency measures that alleviate network constraint.

The increase and proliferation of technologies supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy has introduced new pressures to the electricity system we all depend on. Traditionally increased demand would be facilitated through network reinforcement. However, since 2015 SSEN has sought to manage this increased pressure through supporting flexibility technologies to alleviate constraints on the network, through Constraint Managed Zones (CMZ).  

Working with Piclo, the independent marketplace for buying and selling smart grid flexibility services, SSEN is extending the opportunity for flexibility beyond CMZ, to providers across its entire network. 

SSEN and Piclo are now calling upon all existing, potential and interested flexibility providers to register at Piclo now, and be an active part in delivering a smarter, flexible and more cost-effective network. 

Payment for providing flexibility services will commonly consist of an availability payment and a utilisation payment, and typically be around £300/MWh. Providers will also benefit from a new streamlined approach to the procurement, auction, contracting and settlement processes that Piclo provides. 

SSEN and Piclo previously worked together in making six sites across SSEN’s licence area, where there was constraint on the system, open to tenders for flexibility. By scaling the call for flexibility across the entirety of SSEN’s network, they are providing opportunities for more people to engage and benefit from the tremendous opportunities afforded by the transition to a smarter, more flexible electricity network. 

Stewart Reid, Head of Future Networks at SSEN said: “I am delighted that SSEN and Piclo are taking this significant step forward in delivering Proactive Flexibility, which could play an important role in supporting the UK transitioning to a low-carbon economy. 

“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, CEO and Co-Founder at Piclo said: “Today’s deal with SSEN is really important  for Piclo following our successful UK-wide pilot. We’re delighted to be partnering with SSEN to strengthen its flexibility ambitions. 

“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.”

Initially SSEN will procure flexibility through four services:  

  • CMZ Prevent – the traditional CMZ product that supports the management of peak demand.
  • CMZ Prepare – which will support the network during planned maintenance work.
  • CMZ Respond – designed to support the network during fault conditions as a result of maintenance work
  • CMZ Restore – to support the network during faults that occur as a result of equipment failure.

SSEN is in the process of developing a further three additional CMZ service types with the expectation these will be released in late 2019.