January 16, 2018 9:00 AM

UK Power Networks and Open Utility to trial new energy trading platform

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The UK’s largest electricity distribution network, UK Power Networks,has partnered with software company Open Utility to develop and trial a groundbreakingonline marketplace for local flexibility that will enable more low carbon energy into people’shomes at lower cost.

The new ‘Piclo’ platform is another step towards the creation of a smart grid for all and buildson the expertise the network gained from its pioneering Flexibility service tender launched inAugust last year. The new platform will help open up new markets for a wide range offlexibility providers by making it easier for them to sell their services to help networks managetimes of peak demand.

The project aims to digitise UK Power Networks’ procurement process for customer flexibility,streamline the bidding process for service providers and optimise network investmentdecisions through improved matching of service providers with network needs.

UK Power Networks is transitioning from its traditional role as a Distribution NetworkOperator to a Distribution Systems Operator, so that it can enable and support the increase inlocal generation and rise of new technologies such as electric vehicles and electricity storage.

Backed by UK Government funding from the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund, Piclo simplifies theprocurement process and opens up access to the growing community of flexibility providers -including aggregators, energy suppliers and distributed energy resources, effectively creatinga new marketplace for local flexibility trading.

Last year UK Power Networks ran the UK’s first flexibility services tender which invitedexpressions of interest from distributed energy operators capable of increasing generation orreducing consumption on request at the 10 locations across the network.

James Johnston, CEO of Open Utility, said: “We are incredibly excited to work with UK PowerNetworks. Following backing from BEIS, it is a hugely important milestone to sign up our firstDistribution System Operator. We look forward to supporting the development of a smart gridin the UK.”

Ian Cameron, Head of Innovation at UK Power Networks, said: “The way we generate,distribute and use energy is changing and UK Power Networks is in a great place to make themost of the opportunities this transformation offers for our customers. Distribution SystemOperators must collaborate with the technology sector to meet consumers’ demands for ‘connected living’ and procure customer flexibility as a cost-effective alternative to networkupgrades.

“Working with Open Utility to create this unique trading platform will make it quicker, easierand cheaper for our customers to supply their services to the market.”

Open Utility’s flexibility marketplace trial will run throughout 2018. The service is planned tolaunch in spring 2018 at which point flexibility providers will be able to register their assetsand start to participate in local tenders.

For further information please contact:

For Open Utility: Addison Huegel (

For UK Power Networks: press office on 0330 159 1712

Notes to editors

1. Creating a smart grid

The electricity grid was conceived over 100 years ago. Power traditionally flowed one wayfrom big power stations down the distribution networks to end customers

Today, almost a million small scale generators are connected to the distribution grid.

2. Open Utility

Open Utility is an ambitious software company based in London with a mission to makeelectricity cheap, clean and abundant.

Open Utility has secured £2 million of funding, including grants from DECC and privateinvestment from Ian Marchant, former CEO of SSE. Open Utility has been named byBloomberg as one of the UK’s top 50 Business Innovators and won Startup of the Year atEuropean Utility Week. More information is available at:

3. UK Power Networks

UK Power Networks is the country’s biggest electricity distributor, making sure the lights stayon for more than eight million homes and businesses across London, the South East and theEast of England.

Network operators aren’t the same as energy suppliers; network operators manage localpower lines and substations, while energy suppliers sell the electricity that runs through thepower lines.

UK Power Networks is the first electricity distributor to be named in the Sunday Times’ 25Best Big Companies to Work For, and made industry history by becoming first company to winUtility of the Year two years running (2015 and 2016, also 2012).

The company invests more than £500 million in its electricity networks every year, offers extrahelp to vulnerable customers at times of need, and is undertaking trials to ensure thatelectricity networks support the transition to a low carbon future. It also moves cables andconnects new electricity supplies. If you have a power cut ring 105, or tweet us @ukpn

About Piclo

[This notice was update on 26th March, 2024]

Piclo’s mission is to decarbonise the grid. We develop software solutions that make our energy networks smarter, flexible and more sustainable. Piclo Max, our market access platform, enables flex sellers (such as EV and battery owners) to access all electricity markets from one place. Piclo Flex, our flexibility services marketplace, enables flex buyers (system operators) to source flexible electricity from flex sellers during times of high demand or low supply.

To date, Piclo has over 300,000 registered flexible assets representing 22 GW of registered flex capacity, with flexibility contracts awarded totalling £74m and 2.6 GW+ of flexible capacity procured.

Piclo currently operates in six global markets: in the UK, supporting all six Distribution System Operators (UK Power Networks, SP Energy Networks, Electricity North West, Northern Powergrid, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks and National Grid Electricity Distribution); and the Transmission System Operator (TSO) (the ESO); in Ireland (ESB Networks), Italy (E-Distribuzione), Portugal (E-REDES)); in Australia (CitiPower, Powercor); and in the United States in New York State (National Grid) and Connecticut (United Illuminating). Aside from its leading position in the UK, Piclo has a growing presence in Europe, USA and the Asia-Pacific. 

For more information book a demo, follow us on LinkedIn, and watch us on YouTube.