UK Power Networks (UKPN) is to source flexibility from Social Energy’s virtual power plant (VPP), made up of solar-powered domestic batteries.

The distribution network operator (DNO) has signed deals with Social Energy and Kiwi Power to provide a total of 2.1MW of capacity up to 2023/24.

Social Energy is to provide flexibility services by discharging its fleet of domestic batteries, which are twinned with rooftop solar panels. Kiwi is to provide flexibility capacity from a wastewater treatment plant and local NHS hospital.

“This service is a valuable addition to the portfolio of flexibility services already delivered by Social Energy’s cutting edge AI-driven flexibility platform that empowers householders to support the transition to a more flexible grid, and further drive down their energy costs,” Stephen Day, chief technology officer at Social Energy, said.

UKPN procured 45MW of flexibility in 2019, with six providers so far signing contracts with a total value of over half a million pounds.

In November 2019, it launched a new round of flexibility tenders on Piclo, looking for 170MW across 115 areas on its network. The tenders, for March 2020, are worth £27 million, the DNO said.

Sotiris Georgiopoulos, head of smart grid development at UKPN, said the DNO is open for business when it comes to flexibility, and it’s “an important step” to see two new providers come on board.

“We are pushing the boundaries, transforming our business and creating new opportunities for flexible energy providers and lowering costs for our customers,” Georgiopoulos continued.

KiWi Power’s chief commercial officer, Stephan Marty, said the company is pleased to be working with UKPN, with local flexibility markets representing “a new and growing opportunity for businesses to earn revenue from their demand flexibility”.

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