Flexitricity’s virtual power plant surpasses 500 megawatts

Published: 20 June 2020 - 4:30 a.m.
By: Baset Asaba

Flexitricity is working with a host of public sector organisations, industrial and commercial businesses, and utility scale flexible energy projects, to offer National Grid the flexibility it needs to meet the energy demands of the UK.

Dr Alastair Martin, Chief Strategy Officer at Flexitricity, said: “This is a very exciting landmark. Virtual power stations are now just as effective as traditional power stations in securing electricity supplies, while being much cheaper and greener. We have proven that electricity users of all types can be flexible at scale and can earn while doing so. This is one of the keys that will unlock net zero.”

Edinburgh-based Flexitricity now has a fully flexible virtual power plant of 500MW under management, helping National Grid ESO and Distribution Network Operators balance variations in renewable generation and manage security of supply.

The 500MW virtual power plant consists of flexibility from a wide range of different assets owned by customers across Britain. This includes NHS hospitals, universities, local authorities, district heating schemes, supermarkets, commercial growers, and manufacturers. Working with Flexitricity gives these organisations the ability to drive sustainable revenue and transform outcomes for their users and customers.

Flexitricity also provides the route to market for large front-of-the-meter assets, including the recently announced partnership with Gresham House that will see Flexitricity optimise their 50MW/75MWh Thurcroft battery storage site – thought to be the biggest in the UK.

The landmark figure was reached with the addition of a site offering 15MW of turn-down for National Grid’s new Operational Downward Flexibility Management service (ODFM).

The flexible energy specialist is on a mission to ensure all different types and sizes of flexibility are able to contribute to balancing the Grid and earn from doing so. On 23rd April, Flexitricity completed the first ever trade in the Balancing Mechanism as a Virtual Lead Party (VLP), by dispatching two batteries owned by Philip Dennis Foodservice – a family-owned food wholesaler. The transaction marked an important milestone for the GB energy market, and the new arrangement opens up opportunities for new providers and technologies to benefit.

Next steps for Flexitricity include using electric vehicle charge points and domestic flexibility to help balance the Grid. A smart, flexible power system – one which minimises cost and puts green energy to work – must embrace this type of flexibility. The near-complete electrification of heat and transport is not only an essential part of net zero; it also creates a resource with the capability to balance itself.

Dr Alastair Martin, Chief Strategy Officer at Flexitricity, said: “Breaking through the 500MW threshold is a big moment for the team at Flexitricity. The last 12 months have been our most successful so far. This demonstrates that there is a huge opportunity for flexible energy users and generators to help the National Grid meet the energy demands of the UK, and to earn from doing so.

“The UK Government has committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Britain is the first major economy to put such a target into legislation.

“Reducing emissions is one thing; committing to eliminate them is quite another. While Flexitricity has been pioneering demand-side flexibility, we’ve seen huge progress right across clean energy. The technologies and systems are now ready to take us to net zero. In particular, by coupling energy efficiency with flexibility, the UK will be able to electrify heat and transport, put green energy to work in British businesses and keep the lights on in a net zero future.

“We expect to see further dramatic growth in the demand response industry throughout this period of change as energy users, distributed generation and battery storage increasingly come together to support the grid and help the UK reach its emissions targets.”

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