National Grid have published a roadmap to enable companies who offer flexibility by altering generation and/or consumption of their assets, or those that they manage on behalf of other parties, to sell into the Balancing Mechanism - a key tool in balancing supply and demand close to real time.

Described as 'the ultimate flexibility market', the Balancing Mechanism will grow substantially over the coming years as more renewable and distributed generation comes onto the system, and large centralised plant retires. Unlike ancillary services, where National Grid currently contracts flexibility much earlier with fixed prices and services for set durations, the BM is required to respond on an intraday basis and can offer significant revenues as a result, creating a deeper market and opportunity for those that can respond on a within-day basis to earn money for their flexibility.

So far, the BM has largely been the domain of large power plants and specific distributed single large sites that have a generation license but in recent reforms, a key goal for National Grid is to pave the way for new market entrants who are not currently licenced suppliers such as aggregators and providers of embedded flexibility. National Grid’s drive for wider access to the BM will allow aggregators to enable smaller generators, such as wind, solar, batteries and industrial electricity user to fully compete in the entire balancing services market.

Energy storage developer Limejump has entered the first aggregated unit to go live on to National Grid’s in the UK this morning.

Erik Nygard, CEO of Limejump, said: “Limejump’s entry into the Balancing Mechanism is another step in our efforts to ‘disrupt’ the conventional operations of the UK energy market. This move means that a farmer with a solar installation or a supermarket with excess energy from its cooling units will be on the same footing as a giant power station. Just as importantly, our move increases competition, enabling a cleaner, more sustainable energy future that benefits both the environment and the end consumer.”

This fascinating to see - the delivery of wider access to the GB Balancing Mechanism will be a big step forward in delivering the smart and flexible energy system of the future.