Electricity distribution network UK Power Networks has partnered with software company Open Utility to develop and trial a new online marketplace that will enable more low carbon energy into homes at lower cost.
The new ‘Piclo’ platform represents another step towards the creation of a smart grid in the UK and builds on the expertise the network gained from its pioneering Flexibility service tender launched in August last year. The new platform will help open up new markets for a wide range of flexibility providers by making it easier for them to sell their services to help networks manage times of peak demand.
The project aims to digitize UK Power Networks’ procurement process for customer flexibility, streamline the bidding process for service providers and optimise network investment decisions through improved matching of service providers with network needs.
UK Power Networks is transitioning from its traditional role as a Distribution Network Operator to a Distribution Systems Operator, so that it can enable and support the increase in local generation and rise of new technologies such as electric vehicles and electricity storage. Piclo is supported by UK Government funding from the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund. Its aim is to simplify the procurement process and open up access to the growing community of flexibility providers - including aggregators, energy suppliers and distributed energy resources, effectively creating a new marketplace for local flexibility trading.
Last year UK Power Networks ran the UK’s first flexibility services tender which invited expressions of interest from distributed energy operators capable of increasing generation or reducing consumption on request at the ten locations across the network.
“We are incredibly excited to work with UK Power Networks. Following backing from BEIS, it is a hugely important milestone to sign up our first Distribution System Operator” said James Johnston, CEO of Open Utility. “We look forward to supporting the development of a smart grid in the UK.”
Ian Cameron, Head of Innovation at UK Power Networks, added that the way energy is generating, distributed and used is changing and that UK Power Networks is in a great place to make the most of the opportunities this transformation offers for its customers. Distribution System Operators must collaborate with the technology sector to meet consumers’ demands for ‘connected living’ and procure customer flexibility as a cost-effective alternative to network upgrades. Working with Open Utility to create this unique trading platform will make it quicker, easier and cheaper for customers to supply their services to the market.
Open Utility’s flexibility marketplace trial will run throughout 2018. The service is planned to launch in spring 2018 at which point flexibility providers will be able to register their assets and start to participate in local tenders.