22 Dec 2021

North West

Electricity North West secures multimillion-pounds worth of innovation funding

A ground-breaking innovation project that could transform the UK’s growing flexibility services market has been awarded millions of pounds in funding by energy regulator Ofgem.

Bi-Trader is a highly innovative solution which allows Electricity North West’s customers to trade flexibility between themselves, thereby boosting the value and attractiveness of these services.

The scheme also enables customers to meet their obligations to network operators and opens new opportunities crucial to the UK’s net zero targets.

Not only that, for the first time in the UK, Electricity North West will trial real time trading on a live distribution network.

Dan Randles, head of network innovation at Electricity North West, said: “Ofgem’s decision represents a wonderful outcome for Electricity North West.

“This funding award further evidences our ambition in this area, cementing our position as a highly innovative DNO.”

After successfully being awarded £6.8m of Network Innovation Competition funding towards the project by Ofgem, the company along with our project partners Electron, AFRY Management Consulting and Delta-EE intends to a carry out a four-year trial, starting next year. The full cost of the project is £8.4m.

Currently, Electricity North West has an ordered list of customers that it can call on to reduce electricity demand in the event a constraint on the power network needs to be resolved.

The list will be sent to the Bi-Trader market and customers will have the facility to trade bilaterally meaning the order they are switched off in will be changed.

Once the trading window is complete the re-ordered list will be sent back to Electricity North West who will then complete any necessary actions.

Dan Randles added: “By offering the chance to trade, more customers are likely to sign up to flexible services meaning we can reduce our requirement to reinforce the network and customers can boost the value of their assets by using them to participate in provide services to both the DNO and ESO.

“Bi-Trader is an extremely innovative project and we really do expect the neutral market to transform the flexibility market.”

Experts have predicted it will provide a benefit of £35.5 million and a major carbon reduction for the North West region by 2050 and, if rolled out nationally, a benefit of £581 million and further significant carbon reductions. 

The Network Innovation Competition is an annual opportunity for network operators to compete for funding for the development and demonstration of new technologies and operating or commercial arrangements. To win, Electricity North West had to demonstrate to a panel of industry experts that Bi-Trader is transferrable to other network operators and will provide environmental benefits, reduce costs, and maintain security of supply as the UK moves towards a low carbon economy.