In these exceptional times, we have been working hard over the summer to support our client National Grid ESO in developing and rolling out a range of new balancing services products, to help maintain the security of the GB electricity system.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on society, and the electricity sector has been no exception. Coinciding with the sunniest spring on record in the UK, we saw a dramatic reduction in demand across the country as offices and factories closed, and this led to some significant challenges for National Grid.
We have been working with National Grid since the early 1990s, drafting the contracting tools to help National Grid obtain adjustments to power plant output and demand changes from large consumers, whenever the system needs it, to help support system frequency and voltage.
Amongst a variety of measures this summer, National Grid introduced a new “downward flexibility management” service, designed to offer small scale renewable generators such as solar and wind additional revenue to reduce their output (and also to allow those consumers with predictable demand to earn money by increasing their consumption). Our energy team, led by partner Andrew Whitehead, worked to very challenging timescales to produce the suite of documentation which was approved by Ofgem in good time for use by National Grid over the summer.
In parallel, we also supported National Grid in its negotiations with EdF in early May to temporarily reduce the output of its Sizewell B nuclear plant in Suffolk. Another partner in our energy team, Mark Bartholomew, supported on the contract, which was delivered on time. After a successful period of service delivery over the summer months, Sizewell B returned to full output on 25 September, and we are now seeing demand levels on the system much closer to pre-pandemic levels.
Finally, our team has spent much of August and September working with National Grid to develop and roll out another brand new balancing services product, “dynamic containment”. Looking very much to the future, this is the country’s fastest-acting response service yet, designed to obtain extremely quick adjustments to generating plant output in the event of sudden incidents on the system, to help contain deviations in system frequency. As such, it has a vital role to play in the evolution of our electricity network, which is seeing us transition to a smarter and green power system with renewable generation at its heart.
Andrew Whitehead, supported by solicitor Anayaty Tahir, led on this exciting project alongside the National Grid legal team, which will involve National Grid procuring service offers from participants on a daily basis. Following a comprehensive industry consultation, Ofgem approved the final documentation on 25 September meaning the new service will go-live, in a soft launch, on
It is a privilege to be involved so closely at the heart of these industry developments, at such a pivotal time for the energy industry. And, needless to say, we were delighted to receive great feedback from the National Grid team for our efforts: “thanks ever so much, we couldn’t have done it without you.”
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