Open Utility wins funding to develop local flexibility trading

Open Utility has won £412,500 in funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Energy Entrepreneurs Fund (EEF) to develop an online marketplace for local electricity flexibility trading. The marketplace will help distribution network operators (DNOs) play an active role in managing local grids.

With the rollout of distributed renewable generation, storage and electric vehicles, DNOs are facing unprecedented congestion problems. Open Utility’s ‘Piclo’ platform will help DNOs procure customer flexibility to reduce congestion at specific times and locations, as a cost effective alternative to network reinforcement.

Open Utility said DSOs face several challenges in making local flexibility procurement a success. Without high levels of participation in their tenders, they cannot guarantee any benefits over traditional reinforcement. Open Utility said its platform can help DSOs interact with the long tail of flexibility providers to maximise participation in their tenders.

The first commercial service on the Piclo Platform was a peer-to-peer (P2P) energy matching service for businesses who want to buy from local renewable generators. Open Utility trialed the P2P service with funding from a previous EEF award from the government in 2014, and subsequently launched a commercial version with Good Energy in 2016.

It also said tender processes must be fully automated so they can scale to cover the 1.7 million postcode areas in the UK and coordinate with the System Operator.

Open Utility is now setting up trials of the P2P matching service in Italy in partnership with ERG and in the Netherlands in partnership with Essent.