United Kingdom

Lightsource Labs to deliver local flexibility to UK Power Networks and Western Power Distribution  

  • Lightsource Labs will deliver 1.8MW of flexibility services to UK Power Networks, and 15kW to Western Power Distribution
  • The company will use pioneering energy management technology – Tribe – to unlock flexibility in energy assets within residential properties
  • Lightsource Labs will be deploying new and existing assets.

Lightsource Labs, an energy technology business wholly owned by global solar company Lightsource bp, today announces its first commercial partnerships with Distribution Network Operators in the UK. The company will deliver 1.8MW of local flexibility to UK Power Networks, and a further 15kW to Western Power Distribution (WPD). These flexibility services will help alleviate constraints on the respective distribution networks during times of unusually high ‘peak demand’ by either shifting demand away from these peak periods or turning up generation.

The services supplied to UK Power Networks will be across 20 zones in and around London, and will be delivered from 2021 to 2028, and the services to WPD will be across 3 constrained zones in Coventry, Witheridge and Ledbury from 2021 to 2022.

Cutting-edge energy management technology

Lightsource Labs will utilise its energy management technology – Tribe – installed in residential properties within each zone to deliver the contracted flexibility services.  Tribe will connect to either existing or new generation and storage assets within the properties, including solar PV, batteries and electric vehicle charging points.

In each zone Tribe’s AI technology will optimise schedules of the connected storage assets and loads to ensure there is enough capacity reserved to reduce the evening peak demand. The systems will aggregate into Lightsource Labs’ Virtual Power Plant (VPP) to respond to UK Power Networks and WPD’s dispatch signals and schedules for flexibility.

Speaking about the new flexibility contracts, Benjamin Kott, CEO at Lightsource Labs, commented that “Using our innovative energy management technology to deliver local flexibility services to UK Power Networks and WPD is a breakthrough moment for Lightsource Labs. While our technology is designed to optimise assets to maximise solar self-consumption within the property to reduce energy bills, there’s clearly significant demand side response value it can provide Distribution Network Operators and other utility partners outside the home. We’re looking forward to helping UK Power Networks and WPD operate more resilient grid networks and to unlock more value from distributed energy assets for our customers.”

Flexibility first approach

The total electricity demand is set to increase over the next decade – and with that the size of weekday evening peak demand. UK Power Networks and WPD, are taking a ‘Flexibility First’ approach, and are therefore working with technology and flexibility providers like Lightsource Labs to smooth the demand peaks and reduce the impact they have on their networks helping them avoid or defer network reinforcements and expensive upgrading works.

“As we look to decarbonise the system while ensuring grid stability,” said Evangelos Karagiannis, Power System Engineer for UK Power Networks, “we need to work with partners like Lightsource Labs to deliver demand-side flexibility. Lightsource Labs’ technology can balance both customer and network needs and provide value to both.”

Helen Sawdon, Flexible Power Commercial Officer, said that “WPD are committed to continue providing a reliable and efficient electricity network to our customers. As we continue to connect more generation and low carbon technologies onto our network and manage increases in electricity demand due to the take up in electric vehicles and heating, the procurement of demand-side flexibility services from providers such as Lightsource Labs are key to supporting our effective operation of the electricity distribution system.”

Lightsource Labs will be installing Tribe alongside new and existing energy assets to deliver the flexibility services to UK Power Networks, working with channel partners to start recruiting and installing Tribe technology from May, with first services due to be delivered to UK Power Networks in November. Conversely, Lightsource Labs will utilise its existing fleet of energy assets to deliver flexibility services to WPD from July.

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