Power Responsive Guide to Demand Side Response Webinars

The Power Responsive Guide to Demand Side Response is now available.

Get more information on demand side flexibility opportunities with our new webinar guides.

These guides provide a service overview and highlight potential routes to market for Reserve services, Frequency Response services, Wider access to the Balancing Mechanism, and the Capacity Market.

Power Responsive Guide to Demand Side Response

We are pleased to let you know that the latest Guide to DSR has now been published.

This guide is a great starting point for anybody looking to understand the demand side proposition, and access additional revenue by providing Balancing Services to National Grid ESO or your local DNO, whether directly or through a third party. Businesses from many sectors including manufacturing, health services, retail, and transport, to name just a few, are continuing to support our energy system. There are likely to be opportunities whatever your business. Aggregators and suppliers are numerous, and their support can be extremely valuable in helping to identify flexibility opportunities where you might not think possible.

We’re very much interested to hear your thoughts regarding the guide, including how useful it is to you and your organisation, and where you think any future improvements could be made.  Please provide us with your feedback at [email protected]

British food company cooks up a net-zero milestone for National Grid ESO

National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) and ELEXON opened up the balancing mechanism (BM), the most important tool for balancing the energy system in real time, to a wider range of flexibility providers in December 2019.

A family-owned wholesale food business has partnered with Flexitricity to become the first company to trade with National Grid ESO using this new route to market.

Roisin Quinn, Head of National Control at National Grid ESO, said:

“This transformation is central to the way we balance the system today – particularly as we work to meet some of the challenges associated with balancing the system – and forms an important part of being able to operate carbon free by 2025.”

In an industry first, Flexitricity has aggregated two batteries owned by Philip Dennis Foodservice and dispatched them in response to a call for energy received from National Grid ESO using the newly-launched balancing mechanism wider access arrangements.

Philip Dennis Foodservice is a family-owned regional catering wholesaler based in Devon supplying customers with a range of frozen, ambient and chilled foods.

The company has a Tesla energy storage system at their site in Mullacott, and a BYD battery adjacent to another of their sites at Roundswell. Both batteries are connected to Flexitricity’s virtual power plant and are managed round the clock by Flexitricity’s 24/7 control room in Edinburgh.

Philip Dennis Foodservice became the first of a new wave of participants which will trade in the balancing mechanism after National Grid ESO removed barriers to entry to this market at the tail end of 2019.

The transaction marks an important milestone for the GB energy market and highlights National Grid ESO’s focus on boosting real-time flexibility in the system and improving equality of access. Balancing mechanism wider access presents a huge opportunity for a range of flexible energy users, including EV users, domestic heating and energy storage, district heating, renewables and community energy projects, and industrial and commercial flexibility such as refrigeration, HVAC and lighting.

Historically the balancing mechanism has been dominated by large energy suppliers, formerly known as the ‘Big Six’. Now, as the country moves towards its 2050 net zero carbon targets, National Grid ESO and ELEXON have made changes to encourage smaller, more agile energy assets to contribute.

This change will improve system flexibility, which will facilitate renewable energy deployment and bring better value to consumers. New entrants to the market – like Philip Dennis Foodservice – will be able to reduce their environmental impact whilst creating additional revenue streams without disrupting day-to-day operations.

Flexitricity monitors the balancing mechanism and remotely alters the charge and discharge profile of Philip Dennis Foodservice’s batteries on site, in response to National Grid ESO’s requirements to balance supply and demand in real time.

The balancing mechanism is one of the main tools National Grid ESO uses to balance supply and demand on the electricity system in real-time. Through the BM, providers can offer to increase or decrease their generation or demand to help balance the system.

Roisin Quinn, Head of National Control at National Grid ESO, said:

“We’re excited to see the first example of wider access to our balancing mechanism as a virtual lead party in action with Philip Dennis Foodservice and Flexitricity. Wider access opens up opportunities for new providers and technologies to become part of the electricity market, making it smarter and more flexible as we shift away from traditional large thermal power generation to cleaner, decentralised power.


Andy Lowe, Director at Flexitricity, said:

“We are delighted to be the first to complete a trade in the balancing mechanism utilising this new route to market and are fully committed to helping more businesses like Philip Dennis Foodservice to access this revenue source.

“We have been working with businesses for over 11 years to maximise the value of their energy assets and now we can provide this service to thousands more businesses.

“Our focus has always been to build a decentralised, greener and fairer energy system where all energy users benefit – not just the big suppliers. It’s hugely rewarding to see that that’s now becoming a reality. Philip Dennis Foodservice – a small, family-owned business – is traded as part of our virtual power plant in the same, lucrative market the ‘Big Six’ are trading in. It’s a perfect example of the progress we’ve made as an industry over the last few years.

“Now as at any other time, our energy system needs customer-side flexibility to be both secure and green which is why it was important to us to be able to reach this milestone.”


Peter Dennis, Director at Philip Dennis Foodservice, said:

“Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do, and we’re delighted that working with Flexitricity is enabling us to ‘green up the grid’. We’re extremely proud that our batteries were the first ever assets traded in the balancing mechanism through this new route to market.

“Energy used to be purely a cost for us and something that we didn’t have much control over. Now, by slightly altering our generation and consumption profile, in response to National Grid ESO’s requirement, we’re able to earn additional revenue that can be invested back into the business and gives us a competitive advantage.”



Encirc blazes demand side trail with flexible approach

By agreeing to turn down some of its assets for 30 minutes at times when demand for electricity is greater than supply, glass manufacturer Encirc is supporting National Grid’s Firm Frequency Response (FFR) service – and helping create a greener grid. Energy Manager David Burns explains.

Our business is at the forefront of manufacturing and filling glass containers, offering a 360 degree supply chain solution to some of the world’s most recognised brands.

We operate from two sites, one in Derrylin, Northern Ireland, and the other in Elton, Cheshire. It’s our vision to build an even stronger business by investing in our people and technology, and continuing to embrace a culture of continuous improvement.

Our industry is energy intensive, and the production of glass relies on furnaces being heated to a high temperature, which means we’re on a constant search to reduce our impact by finding new ways to recycle, minimise and reduce our energy consumption.

With energy management a major consideration, we started to explore the market for providing demand side response (DSR).

Managing energy more efficiently

We’re always on the lookout for new suppliers that can add value to our supply chain and help reduce our environmental impact. We identified UK aggregator KiWi Power as a business that was well placed to support us.

After initial meetings, the aggregator visited our Elton site and carried out a detailed feasibility study to see how our production facility could deliver DSR without impacting on our business processes.

Our main concern was that there would be no disruption to our glass production process – whatsoever. By collaborating closely with KiWi Power, we were able to make sure we selected a programme that suited our assets and production processes.

We’re on a constant search to reduce our impact by finding new ways to recycle, minimise and reduce our energy consumption.

The programme we chose was Firm Frequency Response (FFR). It’s a service that helps National Grid control system frequency around Great Britain in real time by balancing electricity demand with generation. The business calls on us to respond at times when there’s a shortfall in generation or a sudden increase in demand.

When that happens, we are required to turn down the power demand on our assets within 10 seconds – and sustain that for 30 minutes. At the end of the process, the assets are restarted automatically.

A greener, more cost-effective grid

By reducing our load in this way, we play our small part in reducing the need for back-up power stations to fire up. So we’re able to contribute to creating a greener, more cost-effective grid.

Getting our business ready to deliver DSR was really straightforward. The aggregator came to site to install a control panel that would allow them to monitor our data remotely. This was easy to integrate and works alongside our existing systems.

Any signal to power down is received through this control panel, which automatically sets the assets to a pre-determined response level. For peace of mind, and to fully protect our processes, if we need to manually override the signal we can.

Effortless to integrate and manage

The control mechanisms behind the DSR systems – and how our assets react to response events – have proven easy to integrate and manage. There is also total transparency in the metering and monitoring that the aggregator does. This allows us to analyse performance and ensure that participating in the programme is consistently the right choice for our business and its production processes.

Since the contract began, we’ve seen a number of benefits and we’ve confidence that our infrastructure is operationally sound.

But for us, the best benefit is being able to assist in the operation of a decentralised energy grid. It’s exciting to play an active part in supporting the changing electricity system and become part of a more diverse, robust and decarbonised system.

Kodak Alaris achieves 11% cost savings through intelligent energy management

17 Feb 2017

With a complex on-site generation set up, and a requirement to reduce energy costs and operational planning time, Kodak Alaris looked to flexibility as a smarter approach. David Jeans, Energy Manager for Kodak Alaris, explains how they worked with DONG Energy to implement a flexibility solution that cut resource time as well as energy costs.

Creating an operational strategy that uses our generation and consumption assets in the most efficient way can be a time-consuming process, often requiring manual data entry and complicated calculations. For pragmatic reasons, we were having to use broad averages rather than accurate half-hourly market information. A practical, low-cost solution was needed to help us respond to market information more effectively.

When I heard about DONG Energy’s approach to optimising site operations at a seminar it was a real ‘light-bulb’ moment. Their solution is unique – I’d never come across anything like it before, but it was the perfect fit for our needs. The software they’ve developed is cutting-edge. It’s cloud-based and uses algorithms to calculate the optimal run schedule for an operating plant. To do this, it analyses market signals in relation to operating constraints and asset availability. We enter plant information through the web portal, which is then automatically analysed to produce our optimum daily run schedule, detailing the commercially optimal way to operate equipment, schedule production, and generate electricity on-site or export to the grid. I’m able to take the information directly from the interface, print it out and hand it to our operational staff in our morning production meeting. Everyone finds it really easy to use as the solutions are always practical. It’s a very different plant now. Previously, we’d have a plan for the week that didn’t change all week because it was built on averages. Now we have a plan that changes from hour to hour and that really optimises what the plant is doing each day.

Accessing the right support

I have weekly calls with our Account Manager at DONG Energy to make sure we’re getting what we need from the solution. We also get to speak directly to the technical people who built the system, so they really know how it works and can quickly resolve any problems. From the word go, it’s been a collaborative experience and we’ve been able to establish great relationships with the technical support team at DONG Energy, both in London and in Denmark. Their expertise complements ours and they were extremely quick to understand the complexities of our site and what we were looking to achieve.

Through working with DONG Energy, we have been able to take full advantage of our site’s flexibility capabilities and have followed the system’s recommended run schedules to within 3%. As well as boosting resource savings through a reduction in daily planning time, we have optimised operational performance which has led to an 11% saving in energy costs.

I would definitely recommend flexibility solutions to other businesses which work similarly to ours. From a business perspective, the savings you can achieve using simple tools and techniques make it a no-brainer.

Cast iron case for Firm Frequency Response

James Brand, Managing Director of United Cast Bar, a leading foundry based in Chesterfield, is a firm fan of Firm Frequency Response (FFR). Here he explains why.

United Cast Bar (UK) is a major player in the continuous cast iron bar market, producing up to 45,000 tonnes of continuous cast iron bar annually and with our own distribution network in Europe. We have the largest portfolio among our peers worldwide, offering a wide range of sizes and formats. Approximately 90% of the foundry’s output is exported, 80% to EU countries.

Our journey towards FFR began when I discovered a little about the scheme and decided to investigate further. We always need to be on the lookout for additional revenue streams to support our success in the marketplace, and it seemed like a good way for United Cast Bar to earn extra income in a manageable format.

What I found was that FFR is part of National Grid’s demand side response (DSR) portfolio and, in simple terms, is the generation or removal of load from the electricity grid to stabilise frequency.

National Grid is prepared to pay companies to participate in FFR as it has an obligation to ensure that sufficient generation and/or demand is held in automatic readiness to manage all eventualities that might result in frequency variations. National Grid offers those taking part the potential to earn extra income from their assets by automatically adjusting power consumption in real time.

High rewards

The financial and operational benefits for companies taking part can be significant, with the potential to earn high rewards for every megawatt (MW) of average onsite energy consumption saved. This is in return for around six (on average) ‘turn-down’ events per year, lasting for a maximum of 30 minutes each.

The opportunity to earn significant sums for a controlled risk meant I was prepared to take it to the next stage, and the Cast Metals Federation, of which we are members, put me in touch with GridBeyond. After an informative presentation from them, I discussed it with my management team and we set the process in motion.

Optimised returns

GridBeyond is an aggregator and a technology leader in smart grid optimisation. It helps businesses such as ours to make the right choices and optimise returns. In addition, it takes care of the necessary hardware and software installation, as well as the online monitoring and reaction systems, and the day-to-day running of the system. All of this is provided without any capex requirement, with the aggregator simply taking a share of the scheme pay-out.

We decided that our two main Inductotherm melting furnaces would be suitable assets to shut down during an FFR event. Furnaces are the most energy-intensive items at any foundry and it was estimated that this would provide an average available load of 1.972 MW for the FFR service. On receiving a control signal, the melt furnaces can be turned off within 10 seconds. After 30 minutes, the furnaces can be restarted automatically following the required sequence.

The financial and operational benefits for companies taking part can be significant, with the potential to earn high rewards for every megawatt (MW) of average onsite energy consumption saved.

For peace of mind, we contacted Inductotherm, who manufactured the furnaces, to come in and check that their equipment would be compatible. Inductotherm gave us the all-clear and we happily moved forwards.

If the power is turned down on our melt furnaces for 30 minutes we simply lose a few degrees of temperature which we make up on restart. In addition, we have a manual override option if for any reason there is a health and safety issue or other concern.

Generating revenue

We went live with FFR in February this year, and were generating full revenue from the scheme in the third month after paying down hardware and software costs, and revenue could conceivably rise further in line with increases in production volumes.

There are other benefits too. For instance, GridBeyond has created a personalised optimisation dashboard that presents data such as energy consumption, which is great for our own energy and asset management plans.

Another advantage of working with an aggregator such as GridBeyond is it gives us a futureproof platform so if response schemes change over time we will be technology-ready to access more financially attractive tariffs. GridBeyond’s advanced platform makes switching easy to facilitate.

Saint-Gobain UK & Ireland saves £165,000 with Triad avoidance

An awareness campaign on energy charges at one of the UK & Ireland’s largest manufacturing firms has reaped significant savings and also helped it play a part in ensuring the nation’s electricity network is able to meet demand. Michael Dickinson, Engineering Manager Glass Industry UK & Ireland for Saint-Gobain, explains more.

Until last winter, the workings of the Triad system – used to help smooth out demand on the electricity network – was probably something of a mystery to many of our site managers and energy champions.

The system encourages large energy users to reduce consumption at peak periods in winter by levying a charge based on their electricity use over the three half-hours of highest demand on the grid each winter. As these Triad periods are not known in advance, efforts by major energy users to try and avoid them has the effect of reducing demand across the system.

Triad charges can be a sizeable proportion of our energy bills at Saint-Gobain, a fact highlighted by some number-crunching I did recently for an energy presentation to our managing directors.

Dramatic savings

Ahead of last winter we looked to try and help site managers and energy champions better understand the Triad system and how we could minimise our costs by reducing demand around peak periods.

Following a suggestion by Mark Cox, Account Manager at our energy supplier SmartestEnergy, we staged a joint webinar for staff from our 20 or so sites around the country ahead of last winter.

The response was fantastic with a number of sites really taking the issue on board and developing detailed plans of action for when a Triad period looked likely. Although the timing of the Triad periods isn’t known in advance, we subscribe to SmartestEnergy’s Triad alerting service which assesses a range of factors including historic trends and temperature to determine when they are likely.

Triad charges can be a sizeable proportion of our energy bills at Saint-Gobain, a fact highlighted by some number-crunching I did recently for an energy presentation to our managing directors.

By switching some machinery off or otherwise reducing demand for a short period of time from around 4pm to 6pm – the peak time for Triads – some of our sites have been able to achieve dramatic savings. Our overall demand across the three Triad periods showed an 11% fall and led to a total saving of £165,000.

At one site alone – Holwell Works at Melton Mowbray where energy champions Allan Hird and Tom Zbaraski developed a really well thought out strategy – the saving achieved was the equivalent of more than a whole month’s energy costs there. The site’s success saw it recently presented with the first Saint-Gobain UK & Ireland Energy Management Award with SmartestEnergy also making a donation to charity to mark the achievement.

We’re now looking to build on progress by staging another joint webinar with SmartestEnergy ahead of the start of this coming winter.

Environmental and social benefits

As well as reducing our costs and helping maintain our competitiveness, it also ties in well with the wider aims of our company to minimise our environmental impact and contribute to the economic and social development of the communities we operate in. Reducing our peak demand plays a part in helping balance the grid, ensuring the UK’s energy supplies are maintained and reducing the need for more generation capacity to be built. A real win-win!

Demand side response adds up for Aggregate Industries

It started with bitumen tanks and who knows where it might end? Donna Hunt, Head of Sustainability at Aggregate Industries, relates how her company is broadening its thinking to take full advantage of the possibilities of demand side response (DSR).

Aggregate Industries knows a lot about building roads so it’s appropriate we’re blazing a trail when it comes to making the most of DSR opportunities.

We’re well known in the industry for being pioneers in the use of new technology and we’re always looking for ways to reduce our energy consumption and costs, and at the same time reduce our emissions. When we found out that DSR can help us do all these things – and generate revenue – we became very interested.

We teamed up with energy specialists Open Energi to identify those activities of ours that fit the dynamic frequency response management profile. In other words, activities where we can safely automate the switching on or off of power – without affecting quality – in order to help balance the grid.

The first plant we included in the scheme was our bitumen tanks which heat bitumen for the making of asphalt for road surfaces. We found that turning off our bitumen tank heaters to respond to short-term fluctuations in supply and demand doesn’t affect the quality of our product at all; bitumen is stored at between 150-180 degrees centigrade and the heaters on modern, well-maintained and insulated bitumen tanks can be switched off for over an hour with only a one-degree change in temperature.  The tanks’ temperature bands act as control parameters; if the temperature is within those bands switching can take place automatically, or if not, nothing happens.

The clever part is that the equipment uses frequency signals as a cue, which are instantaneous indicators of the balance between electricity supply and demand. National Grid has to maintain frequency at 50hz to balance supply and demand, so if it falls below 50hz our plant is automatically switched off if conditions are right; if it rises above 50hz, it is switched on.

The average duration of a switch is less than five minutes. Essentially the intervention is invisible and has no impact on our operations, yet we are providing a valuable service to National Grid 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are paid for being available, regardless of how often we are required to respond.

We’re well known in the industry for being pioneers in the use of new technology and we’re always looking for ways to reduce our energy consumption and costs, and at the same time reduce our emissions. When we found out that DSR can help us do all these things – and generate revenue – we became very interested.

Equipment was initially fitted to 244 of our bitumen tanks at 40 asphalt plants around the country. So successful has it proved that we’ve extended it to 11 quarry pumps at two quarries, and we are also reviewing all our sites, operations and equipment to identify further activities to bring into the scheme.

Embracing this innovative technology has helped us achieve 3.6MW per year of flexible demand for the grid.  In terms of emissions that is almost 50,000 tonnes of CO2 avoided over five years – equivalent to saving 390,000 flights between Paris and London!

And thanks to Open Energi’s metering and monitoring equipment, we have new data which can help us identify where the bitumen tanks may be inefficient or not running correctly, which in turn we can use to make adjustments to achieve even more energy savings.

We’re really pleased to be part of the DSR scheme with National Grid and Open Energi and we want to help get the message out how well it works. Through our partnership with the Living Grid network, we’re happy to share our experience of this emerging technology and encourage others to take up the opportunity too. Together we can create a positive change in the energy system that extends beyond our own organisation.