Customer flexibility is key to successful DSO transition, says Northern Powergrid

Northern Powergrid focuses on working with customers to identify their flexible demand options.

According to Commercial Manager, Andrew McKenna, flexibility procurement as part of the transition from DNO to DSO presents “a new opportunity” for a collaborative approach to customer power demand.

Northern Powergrid has already started the roll-out of a “customer-led flexibility strategy”.  The aim is to work with the organisation’s high energy users – whether single large customers, or clusters of smaller ones – to flex demand profiles and help smooth demand across the local power system. 

Giving the example of supermarkets, which require always-on power for freezers and chill cabinets, McKenna suggests there are still times during the day where the power to the freezer units themselves can be turned down, particularly during peaks in local energy demand. 

He suggests financial incentives could be offered to customers to reduce or flex consumption, or exploring renewable supply or energy storage alternatives that could help customers sell spare generation back to the grid.


The First Phase

The initial phase of the Northern Powergrid programme is set to focus on “conventional network reinforcement projects of significant cost.”  In the longer term, the DNO will work with customers to identify further options including commercial generation, import and export of energy and reduction in customer-specific demand.

In the early Phase One stage, Northern Powergrid’s stated minimum requirements are:

  • For a site to provide flexibility it must be located in the relevant position on the network – this includes voltage level and geographic location.
  • The asset should be able to reliably adjust its demand import (against a predetermined baseline) or generation export safely and manage this for the duration of a contracted window.
  • Providing flexibility must not trigger the participant to breach any other contractual agreement the site may have in place e.g. breaching connection agreement.

Minimum size of flexibility available must be 100kW (note this is flexible capability not site capacity). If assets are being bid in as an aggregated portfolio, the minimum portfolio size should be 200kW.