Flexibility is the foundation of our energy future
The climate crisis demands a total revolution in how we generate, distribute, trade, store and use electricity. To achieve net-zero by 2050, all the different components of our energy landscape must come together to make a flexible energy system a living reality.
What is flexibility?
Ofgem has defined flexibility as “modifying generation and/or consumption patterns in reaction to an external signal… to provide a service within the energy system”.
Historically, generation flexibility has been used to balance supply and demand on the “supply-side” of the network. However, as controllable power plants are replaced with intermittent renewable generation, energy consuming devices offer an increasingly promising source of flexibility that does not require the use of polluting power plants. In addition, by using flexibility at the “demand-side” of the network the overall system cost can be lowered, satisfying the aim of net zero at least cost.
As part of the evolution from passive Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to proactive Distribution System Operators (DSOs) with more local network management, flexibility services are becoming an essential resource for balancing supply and demand on the local grid – reducing customer energy bills and helping decarbonise our electricity supply, while ensuring that our network remains resilient, reliable and meets customer needs.
Energy storage has emerged as a key technology to provide flexibility.
Providing flexibility services with battery energy storage – how does it work?
At times when the grid is under pressure, for example when there is a particularly high or low demand for energy, it is vital to be able to provide support (flexibility services) to the grid.
This is extremely important when there is a low demand for energy across the network and a surplus of renewable energy being loaded onto the grid, for example on a windy, sunny day when a lot of clean energy is generated by wind turbines and solar panels but few people are using electricity. In this case, all clean energy produced needs to be consumed or stored, or the grid could become overloaded, with the potential to cause blackouts.
Before distributed energy storage like smart batteries, one of the only solutions was to limit renewable energy generation output (called “curtailment”) such as switching off wind turbines. This meant the grid would miss out on potential clean energy and continue to be dependent on polluting energy sources such as gas and coal.
However, through new smart technologies, battery behaviour can now be modified to make it possible for the grid to rely on batteries to store this surplus clean energy, allowing it to be stored until it is needed, rather than wasted.
The opposite example is when there is a high demand for energy across the network but not enough energy being generated, such as on a still, winter evening when there is a low amount of renewable energy being generated but many people want to use electricity.
At times when there is a high energy demand, the grid will need to increase its supply.
Before energy storage like smart batteries, the only way for the grid to meet the high energy demands across the UK was for them to rely on a range of traditional energy sources, which would often have been done through a process that involved burning fossil fuels.
However, smart battery owners can now provide a more sustainable option to take the pressure off the grid, by discharging the solar energy already stored in batteries to power their homes or by sending their energy to the grid.
Unlocking the power of home solar batteries to support the grid
The grid’s request for this type of support from devices in homes is still in its initial stages, but recently Moixa has had an increasing number of contracts in place to support the grid this way.
Moixa is excited to be at the forefront of this innovation and is currently working with UK Power Networks (UKPN) to provide flexibility services to the local grid in a few different constraint areas across the UK, using its GridShare Software.
Also, Moixa has started working with National Grid through a partnership with Flexitricity, which is the first aggregator to trade in the Balancing Mechanism as a Virtual Lead Party (VLP), opening the door for Moixa to support the grid by utilising home solar batteries. This project will allow us to unlock a new route to support a greener grid through the energy assets across Britain (GB) whilst analysing the benefits of the Balancing Mechanism for battery customers.
Supporting a new era of energy with GridShare Membership Scheme
All Moixa direct customers who sign up to GridShare Membership, Moixa’s free membership programme, have the opportunity to be part of the community that is enabling a new era of sustainable energy in the UK through the participation in flexibility services.
As a GridShare Member, your battery will be grouped with others in order to create a VVP, or “Virtual Power Plant”, and support the UK energy network by sharing the energy stored in your battery or by using the available capacity in your device when the grid is under pressure.
This creates a unique opportunity for the community of GridShare Members to help to tackle the challenges that growing levels of variable renewable energy generation pose for the electricity grid, transforming them into key stakeholders in a collaborative transition to a zero-carbon energy system in the UK.
What does the future hold for flexibility services?
As we head towards a significant increase in renewable generation, we are also installing a greater number of smaller, less predictable energy sources. Therefore, the network infrastructure will change considerably: thanks to new modes of storage and smart technology, we will move from a few big central generators to millions of “home power stations”. Energy flows will become bi-directional rather than flowing from top to bottom. This will lead to customers becoming more empowered and turning into active participants in the energy landscape, rather than passive consumers. Flexibility services have huge potential to change how people view electricity: they will help engage and empower end consumers, enabling them to take part in the wider electricity systems.
“A future powered exclusively by renewables requires intelligent scheduling of distributed storage assets. By making use of the inherent flexibility in exactly when, and how much, households consume energy, we can support the move to zero-carbon electricity at minimum system cost.”, says our Flexibility Manager Michael Evans.
All these elements will work together to achieve an energy system that works efficiently and delivers clean energy thanks to its flexibility.
Get in touch
GridShare Membership, grid services, and the evolution of the UK energy network can raise many questions. If you would like to learn more, call our team on 0161 883 2374 or email your questions to [email protected].
If you are interested in knowing more about our Optimised Battery Systems, use the details above to speak to a member of our Solar and Storage Specialists team; or visit our Request a Quote page to enter a few key details – we’ll get in touch to discuss a specific quote for your solar energy needs, our pricing, and our flexible payment terms.