System Operator reinstates temporary ‘footroom’ option ODFM as it faces another low-demand Covid summer

The GB  electricity system may face operational stresses during the upcoming summer because demand remains supressed by Covid restrictions, according to system operator NGESO. It has announced plans to reinstate the Optional Downward Flexibility Management (ODFM) service, used last year as an emergency measure.

At issue is managing power fluctuations in the system at times of low demand, when plants that provide the inertia that helps ‘ride through’ faults is not operating. The system operator wants ‘footroom’ so it can bring on appropriate plants to maintain stability.

Last year the NGESO began to use ODFM to contract companies to ‘turn up demand’ at times when the system is most under pressure, which allowed it to meet the need for footroom at less cost than other options.

ODFM  ended last year but NGESO says there are “credible worst-case scenarios where we might experience lower demand periods for longer durations that could require additional downwards flexibility”.  It said it was ‘prudent’ to reinstate the service and would be consulting on it later in February. Meanwhile providers who may be able to offer extra flexibility are asked to email commercial.operation@nationalgrideso.com.

Among other actions to manage this issue is a longstanding programme to reduce fluctuations by ensuring set points at generating plant – including embedded generation – are adjusted to reduce disruption. Grants to pay for the mandatory changes are available – but only until May, see full details here.

See NGESO’s letter here

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Further reading

£5k bonus for embedded generators who adjust plant ‘set points’ this quarter – and warning over mid-May deadline for full subsidy

Nuclear, CCGT, biomass the winners as system operator continues to struggle with low demand

Transmission system demand still hitting new lows

Late May Bank holiday set new record for low demand

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