Britain smashes record with grid flexibility up 45% on previous year

A total of 1.6GW has been contracted by national electricity distribution networks this year to date, freeing up this volume of capacity on the networks during peak periods of demand

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New figures from the Energy Networks Association (ENA) show that Britain has already broken its network flexibility record this year, with 45% more flexibility contracted than during the entirety of 2020.

A total of 1.6GW has been contracted by national electricity distribution networks this year to date, freeing up this volume of capacity on the networks during peak periods of demand.

This volume of flexibility is equivalent to connecting 32,000 50kW rapid EV chargers to the grid and is set to increase through the rest of the year as more flexibility is tendered out.

The yearly total for 2021 is likely to eclipse the 1.1GW contracted in 2020, helping to avoid costly traditional network reinforcement, save consumers money on their energy bills and facilitate greater deployment of intermittent renewables.

The government’s Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan suggests flexibility could cut annual energy system costs by £10 billion a year by 2050 and help create 24,000 ‘green collar’ jobs.

Randolph Brazier, Director of Innovation and Electricity Systems at Energy Networks Association, said: “Local flexibility services are a relatively new market but one that has seen an incredible growth over the past three years alone in Britain. Breaking the previous record for flexibility after only seven months of this year is great news for customers and great news for net zero.

“However, there is still plenty of room for growth and we are not resting on our laurels; networks, Ofgem and Government are working together to increase the amount of flexibility in the energy system of the future, and we very much welcomed the release of the latest version of the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan. With Northern Ireland also joining the fold with local DSO flexibility trials, it looks like this market will soon expand to the whole of the UK.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg. The UK has some of the world’s most ambitious decarbonisation targets and Open Networks is helping to pave the way through flexibility to bring on more low carbon technologies. We’re continuing to power forward, further and faster – in line with Government’s Ten Point Plan and Climate Change Committee targets – to make sure that customers across the country can see the benefits that smarter, more flexible energy networks can bring.”

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