In response to Covid-19, the UK electricity sector needed to implement fast changes to manage unforeseen unbalanced supply and demand caused by unprecedented societal changes reducing demand by up to 20%.
National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO) introduced a service called the Optional Downward Flexibility Management (ODFM) Scheme that allowed generators to volunteer to be switched off in return for financial compensation.
At the same time NGESO put forward a modification to the Grid Code known as GC0143: Last resort disconnection of Embedded Generation. This modification gives NGESO the power to turn generation off under emergency conditions. Generators will not be paid if they are switched off using these powers.
The implementation of the ODFM scheme and the Grid Code modification happened very quickly.
We decided that a pro-active approach was needed so that all our customers understood what was happening and what it meant for them. We quickly analysed all of the sites under our management to determine:
1) Which assets could be reliably turned on and off remotely
2) Which assets were in high pressure areas (i.e. where more turndown was likely to be needed)
Recognising that cross-customer collaboration was going to be needed to make this work, we setup joint customer calls. We focused on educating customers on the changes and the options we had to minimise generators being switched off under GC0143. The feedback we received from customers was incredibly positive, they were happy that we were being proactive and that we were facilitating this approach.
We appointed someone in PSH to join weekly NGESO seminars, to collect and disseminate information so we (PSH & our customers) could plan for any additional operations that might be needed and we continued to host mass customer calls and send cross-party emails so that everyone had visibility. We created briefing notes and tried to engage with other O&M businesses so that customers got the support they needed across their entire portfolio. You can view an example by clicking here.
In addition to implementing these schemes and supporting our customers, we gave feedback to NGESO on the unsuitability of the metrics used in ODFM for solar assets. The feedback and engagement we had with NGESO specifically on ramp up and ramp down rates of solar parks, led to the scheme being changed so that more solar assets could participate without ambiguity.
We successfully delivered ODFM services on 28 occasions between May-July 2020, saving all our customers from GC0143 switch offs.
One of the PSH Behaviours is that “we solve hard problems by thinking outside the box and the industry norms”. This was a good example of where we did this for our customers while others in the industry were paralysed by the changes or could not think of a smart way to implement this. We are proud of the cross-collaboration we have championed for our customers and this has now opened new doors where people are more happily sharing other ideas (e.g. spare stock management).