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More than 100 sites unveiled for Flexibility tender

UK Power Networks has launched the UK’s largest ever tender for flexibility services, for 115 sites where renewable energy can boost network capacity and significantly lower costs for customers.

From Press releases - 19 November 2019 12:00 AM

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As part of its work to revolutionalise the energy distribution market, UK Power Networks is making £24 million worth of flexible services available, with a total capacity of 170 MW – enough to power 80,000 homes. The 115 sites make it the biggest tender yet and includes 55 high voltage sites, and the UK’s first 60 low voltage sites.

The newly-released ‘heatmap’ of all sites, available now on the online platform Piclo, is more than four times larger than the 28 sites announced last year. The map invites tender submissions for UK Power Networks’ 2019/20 procurement programme by March 2020, with results set to be announced on in Spring 2020.

The new tender comes as the company launches its new Smart Grid website, which includes an online ‘flexibility hub’ to make it easier than ever for customers to find out about the process.

UK Power Networks has led in the flexibility field since 2018, when it became the first network operator in the country to commit to a radical ‘Flexibility First’ approach to cater for new connections. In March this year it awarded Flexibility contracts to four companies worth more than £450,000 for 43MW of power cumulative up to 2023. 

Head of Smart Grid Development Sotiris Georgiopoulos said: “Flexibility is the future, so we are leading an open, transparent and accountable new market for distributed energy resources to unlock a wealth of opportunities for our customers.

“This week’s tender release for 2020, our biggest ever, shows we are pushing the boundaries to create these benefits for customers. That is why it extends the reach to 170MW total capacity, including the UK’s first 60 low voltage zones. The UK is a world-leader in Smart Grid technology and flexibility has a key role to play as we move towards a decarbonised, decentralised, digitised network.”

By buying additional energy from Distributed Energy Resources, instead of building new substations and cabling in the traditional way, UK Power Networks can reduce costs for customers who need a new connection. Flexibility could save customers nationwide up to £40 billion by 2050, according to a study by Imperial College London.

Flexibility also creates new markets for wind and solar farms, and electricity storage operators, across London, the South East and East of England, to offer their energy to network operators.

Bids in the tender will have to meet robust economic criteria to ensure they will benefit customers, by offering lower costs in comparison to the traditional approach of building new assets. Further updates on the tender process are due to be released online in December, with full results available in Spring 2020.