ENWL's top tips for participating in DSO flexibility competitions
Piclo sat down with Lois Clark, DSO Commercial Manager for ENWL, to discuss their upcoming competitions and how you can get started.

For those who have never come across DSO flexibility markets, in a nutshell, could you describe what these markets are and why they are important to ENWL?

Distribution Flexibility Services are procured by your local Distribution Network Operator to help manage constraints on the local energy grid. At times of peak demand, we may require customers to increase generation or reduce demand on receipt of a signal to help keep our network within safe operating limits. Reinforcement of these sites can be extremely costly, and take several years, so flexibility is key for us to harness the new pool of low carbon technologies and flexible customers to help manage the projected steep increase in demand in the next decade.

Can you talk a bit about this winter's flexibility competitions? What type of services are you seeking and is there anything that's different about this round of competitions compared to previous ones?

Our latest tender is seeking 1025MW of flexibility on our Extra High Voltage network, across all services, from 2023 to 2028. Following feedback from stakeholders that would like to see longer contracts and more information on expected delivery windows to help inform business cases, we have now published full half hourly forecasts for the next 5 years. We hope this gives the market confidence that we are always listening to our customers and looking for ways to improve.

What are the benefits of participating in DSO flexibility markets?

Utilising flexibility services helps us as networks to avoid costly reinforcement, that ultimately gets passed down to individual customers through their bills. By deferring or avoiding these costs, we can keep bills down for our customers, but also help to avoid putting in large new carbon intensive assets, that may not be fully utilised all the time. Participating in these services can help to generate revenue for customers and businesses, and we believe it’s a key piece of the puzzle in achieving our net zero targets, while also helping to finance this net zero transition for individual customers.  

What kind of assets can an FSP register?

Currently any asset greater than 50kW individually, or an aggregated portfolio of 50kW can participate in our tenders. This means if you’re a domestic customer, you would have to engage with an aggregator to help manage the contract on your behalf.

What support can FSPs find to help with their participation?

We offer 1-2-1 discussions which you can book here, and we have a whole host of information available on our website to help walk you through the procurement process, understanding how we evaluate flexibility, and how you might provide a response. You can also email us directly at flexible.contracts@enwl.co.uk or have a watch of some of our previous webinars here.

How do you see these markets developing moving forward?

We are committed to using flexibility and we put all of our applicable reinforcement requirements out to market before going down the traditional route. Over the next few years, we will be installing monitoring devices on our high and low voltage network which will cover 95% of our 2.3 million customers. This will give us the visibility of our network that we need to be able to extend these flexibility markets out to even more customers. This coupled with the sharp increase in demand we are going to see due to the increase in low carbon technologies like electric vehicles and heat pumps, means we are going to be needing a lot more flexibility in the future! For some insights into where we see ourselves requiring flexibility in the short to medium term (0-10 years) our Network Development Plan can provide an overview of the type of services and capacities required, you can view this document here.