Flexitricity and Devonshire food firm deliver first 'virtual' balancing mechanism trade

A Devonshire catering company has become the first business in the UK to trade into a virtual balancing mechanism in response to a demand request from the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO).

Virtual power plants are now able to respond to balancing mechanism units following an amendment to the Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC) in 2019

Virtual power plants are now able to respond to balancing mechanism units following an amendment to the Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC) in 2019

Philip Dennis Foodservice in Devon became the first in what is expected to be a plethora of businesses that will trade into the National Grid’s balancing mechanism for grid power stability via a “virtual power plant”.

A Tesla energy storage system at the company’s Mullacott site and a BYD battery adjacent to another at the Roundswell site provided power to the gird via Flexitricity’s virtual power plant. Flexitricity is able to monitor and respond to calls from the National Grid ESO in near-real-time, tapping into storage systems monitored by its virtual power plant to sell into the grid at the time of demand, generating income for businesses.

Flexitricity’s director Andy Lowe said: “We are delighted to be the first to complete a trade in the balancing mechanism utilising this new route to market and are fully committed to helping more businesses like Philip Dennis Foodservice to access this revenue source.

“We have been working with businesses for over 11 years to maximise the value of their energy assets and now we can provide this service to thousands of more businesses.

Virtual power plants are now able to respond to balancing mechanism units following an amendment to the Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC) in 2019. The amendment was made to tap into the UK’s expanding smart grid technology deployment.

As the operating firm for National Grid, National Grid ESO has claimed that the emergence and integration of new technologies mean that a zero-carbon electricity grid by 2025 would be feasible.

Outlined in a 'Zero carbon operation of the electricity system by 2025' report, the ESO claims that new systems, products and services will be put in place over the next six years to support the transition to a decarbonised grid.

However, the ESO was one of the only network operators that weren’t criticised by the RIIO2 challenge for showing a lack of "true leadership" on decarbonisation. The group noted that none of the companies that submitted business plans to Ofgem in December have been "genuinely proactive".

The National Grid has committed to reducing its direct greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, the same timeframe as the UK Government's legislative target.

National Grid ESO’s heat of national control, Roisin Quinn added: "This transformation is central to the way we balance the system today - particularly as we work to meet some of the challenges associated with balancing the system in lockdown conditions - and forms an important part of being able to operate carbon-free by 2025."

Matt Mace



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