Balancing Mechanism: how Moixa supports National Grid in building a future powered by renewable energy
The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) confirmed that the extreme weather events we are seeing are undisputedly linked to human activity and that we will see more. The next few years will prove pivotal in tackling climate change.
Solving the climate crisis will involve different sectors and nations working together. We need to expand the frontier of what is possible for decarbonising of our economy and lifestyles. One of the main challenges is integrating more renewables into the grid while keeping it stable. The UK’s electrical network is highly complex, and it needs to ensure that supply and demand are constantly balanced. Given the unpredictable nature of clean energy sources, this can prove to be extremely challenging.
Energy storage has emerged as a key technology to support the grid in building a net-zero future. Committed to paving the way for the energy transition, at Moixa, we are building the technology to allow our optimised batteries to help the UK electricity system for various grid services.
As the grid increasingly relies on renewable energy sources, fleets of aggregated energy storage assets will act as a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) and support the grid to balance supply and demand through participation in the Balancing Mechanism.
What is the Balancing Mechanism, and how can it support National Grid to use more renewable energy?
The Balancing Mechanism (BM) is one of the most important tools which National Grid, the system operator, uses to balance electricity supply and demand in real-time.
As we move away from fossil fuels, the Balancing Mechanism and other grid services help deliver new ways to manage increasing energy demand and intermittency of renewables.
This allows us to keep homes powered across the UK while relying more heavily on renewable energy.
National Grid will look at predicted energy generation and predicted demand to see whether these match. If there is a difference, then National Grid will request support through the Balancing Mechanism.
How Moixa can support the Balancing Mechanism
Due to recent regulatory changes, smaller, aggregated units can now access the market more easily. This means that residential assets such as Moixa optimised batteries can support the grid through the Balancing Mechanism without the battery owner being tied to a particular electricity supplier.
This change brings much more freedom to participate in the Balancing Mechanism and for Moixa to offer our community another route to support a future powered by renewable energy.
Our GridShare software, the cloud-based platform underpinning Moixa’s smart energy system, can also make batteries work as a Virtual Power Plant (VPP). Each energy storage device connected to GridShare can play its part in taking the pressure off the grid when there is too much or too little electricity available.
If there is too much demand on the grid and not enough energy being generated, the Moixa optimised batteries participating in the trial would export their stored energy to the grid, enabling more renewable energy usage.
Starting the Balancing Mechanism Trial
After providing grid services at a local level, this trial was the first time Moixa looked to support National Grid across Great Britain.
We started the trial by selecting a pool of smart batteries which met all the required criteria. Then, for July and August 2021, the data team within Moixa conducted intensive development and testing to determine the feasibility of participating in the Balancing Mechanism (BM) and other energy markets.
Steps of the trial and results so far
The first step has been to check the basic working model: can small aggregated assets fulfil their existing obligations at a local level, while also coordinating to fulfil a new constraint when viewed as a group, corresponding to some power that has been sold. Results have been positive so far. After a few teething issues were ironed out, it appears that all parts of the system work together well.
To test this, we have sent a number of simulated requests to our flex engine, which is the part of GridShare software that is responsible for provisioning ‘flexibility’, i.e. changing the behaviour of devices and selling the power to third parties.
These requests represent likely scenarios for future Balancing Mechanism participation and scenarios which we deem to be challenging. We have run several successful tests where coordination has worked, our flex engine has successfully selected the best devices, and they have gone on to fulfil their new obligations.
Looking forward, now we have good results from the feasibility tests, the next priority will be testing with larger numbers of devices. This will potentially bring more interesting data and provide a more accurate picture of what behaviour to expect at the scale necessary for Balancing Mechanism participation. In parallel, testing against real market data from the Balancing Mechanism in order to gauge the financial viability of participation will be a crucial stage of product verification.
Renewables pave the way for a low carbon future, but the impacts of their intermittency on the existing grid system cannot be ignored. Finding ways to produce flexibility on the grid is essential to ensuring a smooth transition to a renewable-dominated electrical grid. Therefore, Moixa and other innovative cleantech companies need to work together to develop advanced technology to increase flexibility through the Balancing Mechanism and other grid services while enabling households to play a more active role in the local energy market.