Piclo Flex insights: SP Energy Networks
Part 1 of 3: Since 2019, SP Energy Networks (SPEN) has procured flexibility services on Piclo Flex from a variety of assets and companies (Flex Providers) connected to their networks. In Part 1, we take a look at a market overview of their flexibility market data.

Flexibility is used by Distribution System Operators (DSOs) such as SPEN to mitigate the need for traditional reinforcement and reduce costs for their customers on the transition to Net Zero.

How it works 

Flex Providers (FPs) upload their assets to Piclo Flex, after which they qualify and bid to win flexibility contracts. SPEN receives these bids from qualified FPs and will either accept or reject bids based on considerations such as price. After accepting the bids, SPEN and the FP enter into a Flexibility Services Agreement.

The data in this case study provides a snapshot of SPEN’s flexibility procurement 2019-2021 and the bids from FPs that were accepted. The data does not include information on Flexibility Services Agreements or flexibility services delivered. All data is publicly available on Piclo Flex and the files are linked below.  

Part 1: Market overview

SP Energy Networks Market Overview: Part 1 of 3

View or download the full case study here.

More detail 

SP Energy Networks 

SP Energy Networks own and operate the electricity transmission and distribution network in Central & Southern Scotland, Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales and North Shropshire. Check out their System Operator profile page.

What types of flexibility services are there?

  • Secure 
  • Restore 
  • Reactive Power
  • Dynamic 
  • Sustain

Read here for more information

What kinds of assets are providing flexibility? 

  • Solar PV: read more here
  • Biomass CHP: read more here
  • Gas: read more here
  • Demand side response: read more here
  • Compressed air storage: read more here
  • Battery storage: read more here
  • Vehicle Charging: read more here

What is a Flex Provider? 

We call the companies or organisations with assets providing flexibility services Flex Providers. These must:

  • Complete and pass a DSOs DPS process and qualification steps
  • Have assets owned by or in contract with a registered company (incl. Charities, non-government organisations, community interest company, local government or council)
  • Have suitable assets (defined by factors such as being located in the right area and being technically capable of providing the type of flexibility service required)

DSO flexibility services can be provided by assets that are connected to the networks and able to modify its generation or consumption patterns in response to a  signal. 

Accepted bids  

When a DSO accepts bids from an FP based on factors such as location and price, this results in the DSO offering them a contract for them to provide flexibility services. Only when the contracts are signed by both parties are the services binding. Other UK DSOs refer to accepting bids as awarding contracts. 

What are the benefits of flexibility?

Flexibility is widely acknowledged as having an essential role in the Net Zero transition and provides a cost-effective alternative to physical network reinforcement. Flexibility is critical to reliable, decarbonised networks and key to unlocking capacity for new technologies such as EVs, renewables and heat pumps to connect to the grid.

  • FPs can optimise the use of their assets and earn additional revenue streams, with contracts extending up to 7 years providing long term income opportunities. 
  • Lower-voltage requirements enable non-traditional assets such as EVs to participate.

DSOs can use flexibility to: 

  • Ensure their network is operated within its voltage, thermal and fault level constraint limits as required in their licence conditions. For instance, constraints could be the result of lots of EVs wanting to charge at the same time, or a very sunny windy day causing the DSO to signal to batteries to import surplus renewable generation so it is not wasted or curtailed. 
  • Manage their network in response to events such as faults or bad weather