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Open Utility scoops BEIS funding for ‘groundbreaking’ flexibility marketplace

Energy tech start-up Open Utility has landed more than £400,000 of government funding to help develop an online marketplace for local flexibility trading.

The funding, from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s energy entrepreneurs fund, will help Open Utility create the marketplace as a follow-up to its successful peer-to-peer energy matching service Piclo, which was picked up by Good Energy last year.

Open Utility describes the new flexibility marketplace as allowing distribution network operators to play a more active role in managing local grids. Acting in a similar fashion to Piclo, the service will enable DNOs to procure flexibility from local providers to reduce “congestion” at specific times and locations on the grid.

The company said the system would also help DNOs as they transition to become distribution system operators with greater responsibilities for the overall management of local grids.

DSOs will be tasked with procuring their own flexibility through tendering processes, however Open Utility claims that these processes will need to become fully automated if they are to operate efficiently at scale.

A number of DSOs are already being lined up to participate in a trial of the marketplace later this year.

Ian Marchant, former SSE chief executive and an investor in Open Utility, has backed the project, stating that the role of DNOs is to change “fundamentally” as the energy system evolves.

“Local and peer to peer energy and flexibility markets [will] play a leading role in this change and I am delighted the BEIS are sponsoring this key piece of preparatory work with Open Utility,” he said.