Electron led consortium win BEIS funding to develop a new exchange for flexibility

Published: 26 February 2020

Energy Systems Catapult has joined a consortium led by London-based energy technology company, Electron, to develop a multi-product flexibility exchange with FleX competition funding from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The consortium, named TraDER, brings together Community Energy Scotland, CGI, EDF in the UK, Elexon, Energy Systems Catapult, Kaluza [an OVO Group company] and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, alongside other key players in the emerging flexibility arena including Downing LLP and United Utilities. The project aims to deliver a single access point to multiple energy services such as balancing, stability and network capacity, making it quicker and simpler for assets to provide these services. The market will go live first on the Orkney islands, where renewable energy generation often exceeds grid capacity, creating a huge opportunity for flexibility.

“We want to make it easier for distributed energy resources to play their full role in lowering the cost and carbon intensity of managing the grid” says Joanna Hubbard, Electron’s CEO and Co-Founder. “This starts with delivering the world’s first marketplace for network capacity: a market in which renewable generators can pay flexible assets to make space for them on an increasingly congested grid. This means we can bring more low cost, low carbon generation into the system and create new revenue opportunities for clean technology operators.

Hubbard continues “Longer term, TraDER also presents us with an opportunity to bring together previous work on aligning and simplifying asset registration processes and coordinating flexibility markets through price signals. We believe that these are the key enablers for transparent, liquid markets that will support the transition to net zero.”

The Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Kwasi Kwarteng, adds “If we are to end our contribution to climate change by 2050, it is vital that we explore innovative methods to integrate low carbon sources into our energy system. Building an online marketplace where households and businesses can trade flexibility will make our system more efficient and reduce energy bills.”

TraDER will also draw on Kaluza’s market expertise in residential flexibility and their intelligent energy platform, as well as the substantial trading experience and consumer engagement initiatives of Kaluza and EDF.

“To build the smart zero carbon grid of the future we need a trading platform that creates opportunities and unlocks the true potential of flexible technologies” says Conor Maher-McWilliams, Head of Flexibility at Kaluza. “Today’s infrastructure fails to grasp the full value at its fingertips. Through an intelligent energy platform, connected devices in the home are already providing flexibility to the grid and saving customers money off their energy bills. However, this new flexibility will be able to go so much further if traded within a co-ordinated, agile system that responds in real time to the grid’s needs. We are excited to be working with Electron to demonstrate the rewards of this innovative trading model.”

EDF’s Head of Energy Trading Services, Chris Regan, said: “Renewable energy is an increasing part of the UK’s energy mix. Greater flexibility and control of our energy are essential to successfully integrate these sources into an energy market fit for the future as we work towards net zero by 2050. This project is at the forefront of developing local markets to secure balance and stability while offering new revenue streams for customers, and we’re excited to share the knowledge we’ve gained from our Powershift flexibility platform to further this.”

“We are delighted to be closely involved with the development of a product that could enable a well-functioning energy market in the future” said Paul Buxton, CGI’s Vice President for Energy, Utilities and the North. “We look forward to facilitating stakeholder workshops aimed at drawing out key themes and establishing design for trials.”

ELEXON Chief Executive, Mark Bygraves, said: “We are pleased to support the development of electricity flexibility exchanges as they could play an important role in helping businesses and other flexibility options, such as storage providers, to trade electricity locally. TraDER is a crucial step in unlocking the full value of flexibility by integrating assets into a smart, efficient and flexible energy system. The wealth of experience brought by all of the project partners, combined with the innovative approach to trading, makes this initiative an exciting development in delivering a whole system approach to trading.”

Community Energy Scotland Head of Innovation, Mark Hull, said: “This is a great step both toward addressing real challenges for the communities of Orkney and adding ways to create mutual opportunity for the wider sector. Building on concerted efforts nationally and internationally to ensure that communities and local actors can have a role and benefit from the current energy revolution, local accessible trading platforms such as TraDER show a real way to bring grid, locality and the value of individual and community assets together in a way that we all can benefit.”

George Day, Head of Markets, Policy and Regulation, said: “We are thrilled to have been selected to work with these exciting projects on the policy and regulatory implications of new flexibility trading concepts.  We believe projects like TraDER can help to unleash the true value of energy flexibility, as we move towards cleaner energy for both consumers and businesses. We look forward to working with the consortium and drawing out what policymakers can learn from its work.”

Andrew Roper, Distribution Systems Operations Director at SSEN, said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners to deliver the modern electricity grid of the future. SSEN is committed to being a neutral facilitator of the markets that are created in the transition to a smarter, flexible network. Therefore we are thrilled to participate in TraDER, unlocking new opportunities for renewables to participate in supporting energy security, and the UK’s ambitions for a net zero economy.”