UK ESO launches ‘Open Balancing Platform’ to boost use of battery storage

December 19, 2023

The ESO, the electricity system operator for Great Britain’s national electricity network, has launched the first stage of its ‘Open Balancing Platform’, which will facilitate ‘bulk dispatch’, a new tool that will allow control room engineers to send hundreds of instructions to smaller balancing mechanism units and battery storage units sites “at the press of a single button”.

This new system will enable ESO control room engineers to choose options from a pre-selected and optimised list of units to meet a network requirement. This will greatly reduce the time taken to instruct balancing mechanism units and reduce the number of manual instructions required from the control room. “This will drive increased value for consumers by increasing the optimisation of network balancing, speeding up the process and reducing costs,” an ESO statement said.

It added: “The optimisation of control room instructions from the Open Balancing Platform will enable technologies like battery storage to play a more active role in balancing the network.”

Earlier this year, The Electricity Storage Network – the UK industry group dedicated to electricity storage – raised concerns that the ESO was failing to make the best use of available energy storage in the balancing mechanism (BM) and was, instead, opting for more expensive higher carbon-emitting assets when seeking to balance supply and demand.

Additional phases of the Open Balancing Platform will be introduced across 2024 and 2025 to incorporate a wider range of technologies into the bulk dispatch process, as well as transfer existing response and reserve services from the Ancillary Services Dispatch Platform to the new Open Balancing Platform.

By 2027 the Open Balancing Platform will grow to replace both the existing Balancing Mechanism (the system used to balance supply and demand second by second) and the Ancillary Services Dispatch Platform (the system used to procure the ESO’s operational reserves and contingency resources).

Craig Dyke, director of system operations at the ESO, said: “The Open Balancing Platform is critical to delivering the balancing system we need to meet net-zero. Further diversification of generation assets, both in technologies and size require that we deliver more flexible solutions to increase efficiencies and competition, to support the delivery of our zero carbon ambition and to create savings for consumers.”

“By enabling transformation in our balancing capabilities, the ESO can continue to deliver world class reliability and security, both now and in the future.”