A UK firm has won government funding for a project which aims to allow smaller commercial energy users to access Britain’s electricity balancing market.

Edinburgh-based demand response firm Flexitricity has secured almost £500,000 from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for its Quickturn project.

Quickturn is intended to let small-to-medium sized enterprises – including those that are part of larger, multi-site estates, such as supermarket chains – to participate in the UK’s balancing mechanism. It will use flexible energy-consuming assets such as cold storage, air conditioning and heat pumps to help National Grid balance the fluctuating demands of the UK energy system.

Flexitricity founder Dr Alastair Martin said that Quickturn “will help these sites reduce energy costs and earn revenue through providing electricity system balancing services to National Grid.  Previously, participation has not been economically viable for smaller sites due to the cost of hardware, communications and implementation.”

Flexitricity is currently recruiting business to take part and is also partnering with the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Digital Communications, which will contribute its expertise in emerging technology to increase communication speed and reliability, and reduce the overall cost of setting up DSR dispatch systems.

Martin explained: “The ongoing drive towards a more decentralized, renewables-based energy system means that small businesses, and eventually households, will have a vital role to play in the long-term management of our energy system. We’re proud to be able to deliver the tools that enable businesses to take control of their energy usage and earn much needed additional revenue.”

He said the funding from BEIS would “allow us to develop a cost and time-effective solution that fits the requirements of National Grid as well as small sites. National Grid doesn’t turn down its requirements for reliability just because a site is small. 

“Also, a small site will have core business processes which are just as critical as they would be on a large site. This means we’ve had to find a way to deliver the same quality to National Grid, and achieve the same core business protection for the site, as we do in traditional DSR – but with less time spent working on site, and smaller, lower-cost equipment.”