Skip to main content
This project ended in Apr 2020 and is now closed.Dismiss

Visibility Plugs & Socket Project

Funding mechanismNetwork Innovation Allowance (NIA)
DurationFeb 2018 - Apr 2020
Project expenditure180k
Research areaVarious
  • South West
  • January 2020

    The closedown report is being finalised for publication. Planning and preparations are taking place for a dissemination webinar to be held on 2nd March. To r…

The Visibility Plugs & Socket project is WPD’s NIA funded contribution to a much larger EU funded initiative – the Cornwall Local Energy Market - led by Centrica in Cornwall to create a local energy market and test the use of flexible demand, generation and storage across both domestic and business sectors. The Cornwall Local Energy market project will also involve a number of further partners and contributors including National Grid, N-SIDE, Exeter University and Imperial University.

The expertise from both projects will be combined to develop a trading platform for flexibility services to put buyers and sellers in touch with each other. This central ‘socket’ is a hub to which many different parties can connect using their ‘plugs’. This infrastructure and the knowledge of how electricity demand and generation is likely to change as a result of flexibility services allows for greater visibility. 


  • To assist Centrica with the design, testing and trial of the market platform known as the Cornwall local energy market. 
  • To determine the data exchanges that are required to support the platform and the practicalities of purchasing and operating flexibility services via a market platform. 
  • To determine a means of optimising the selection of services from those available, which may include other factors than price, such as reliability. 
  • To investigate the impact of varying attributes such as market model, purchasing timing etc.


As part of DSO transition, DNOs expect to make greater use of flexibility services to delay or avoid reinforcement.  Recruiting and operating flexibility services can be expensive and methods used to date have not encouraged the development of a wider market or the exchange of data with third parties.  The development of a market platform to simplify the process of trading flexibility services, could not only reduce procurement costs for DNOs but would also improve the information available to third parties to avoid conflicts in resources and to monitor the operation and development of the flexibility market.  Similarly, the advantages and disadvantages of the potential market models have not yet been fully explored. Testing different ways of matching buyers and sellers such as through a spot market, potentially including local regional pricing, will inform the DSO transition.


The visibility plugs and socket project seeks to investigate the use of a market platform to procure and dispatch flexibility services. The process of designing, building and testing the market platform will provide learning that will inform the way flexibility markets operate, DNOs procure services and data is exchanged between interested parties.
Centrica are creating a market platform which will enable sellers of flexibility services to see the requirements in a local area from multiple purchasers, similarly it will enable buyers of flexibility services to select from a range of potential suppliers including multiple aggregators or larger customers providing services without an intermediary. The platform can then be used for the arming and dispatching of services and will support the processes for validation of service delivery and settlement.  The information on the platform can then be used for notifications between parties to reduce the negative impact that one party’s use of flexibility services may have on another, but in the longer term could be analysed to ensure that flexibility markets are growing and operating as expected. 

WPD are assisting in the design, testing and trial of the platform. The trial of the market platform will include different seasons and market models and will investigate the impact of purchasing at different timescales or volumes on prices. 

A market platform is expected to deliver the following benefits;

  • Reduced cost in recruiting flexibility services as the central point is easily accessible to all aggregators and larger companies that may choose to act as their own aggregator if the process is simplified. 
  • Encouraging new entrants into the market, making flexibility services a realistic option more often, and also reducing the average prices for flexibility services from having greater competition in supply.
  • Avoiding wasted payments on flexibility services that are negated by other parties via the exchange of information.
  • Improved planning by having better information on the availability of flexibility resources and the viability of non-network solutions.

To find out more about the Cornwall Local Energy Market, visit

Centrica local energy diagram

Project Partners

  • Centrica logo
  • National Grid logo
  • Exeter University logo