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Cost benefits of flexibility

Distribution Network Operators are committed to openly comparing reinforcement and market flexibility solutions for new projects but what does that mean in practice?


Increasing amounts of low carbon generation plus an electric vehicle revolution mean that flexibility has become one of the new buzzwords when it comes to managing distribution networks.

It involves encouraging half-hourly metered customers who can reduce their electrical consumption or increase their on-site generation to contract to provide services in constraint managed zones.

For new customers wanting to connect, comparing market flexibility means receiving a second quote alongside traditional reinforcement costs.

Significant reinforcement schemes will require a flexibility assessment, which will ascertain whether the costs of providing flexibility services exceed the costs of standard reinforcement,” says Network Strategy Team Manager Ben Godfrey.

If it does not then WPD will use Flexible Power to seek expressions of interest from third party providers.

Part of becoming a Distribution System Operator is a requirement to facilitate neutral markets. What that means is that not only must we continue to provide the best value to customers but we have to do that by using whatever means available.

This process results in the first flexibility services we are offering and we are looking to the market to respond. As the smart grid develops we will be offering more options – reactive power to provide other options for managing voltage or helping local generators provide black start services for the national system operator, for instance.”

Flexible Power offers three products: Secure, Dynamic and Restore. Between them, they cover the following scenarios:

  • Scheduled Constraint Management – for example, reducing demand over an evening peak period to mitigate risk of overloading the network.
  • Pre-fault Constraint Management – enables WPD to ask for a change in a customer’s output based on load forecasts; this can be done manually or automatically and could take place during a cold snap.
  • Post-fault Constraint Management – WPD is able to ask a customer to change output when a fault occurs on the network; the service is more likely to be automated and will only be called upon if loading is beyond the post fault rating of the remaining assets.
  • Restoration Support – following loss of supply WPD can instruct a provider to either remain off supply, or to reconnect with lower demand, to support increased and faster load restoration under depleted network conditions.
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