Overview

The objective of FleX, the Flexibility Exchange Demonstrator Competition is to support, through capital grants provided by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the development and demonstration of innovative flexibility exchanges. Flexibility exchanges are marketplaces for energy system flexibility assets, offered by multiple providers (sellers) of flexibility to multiple buyers.

Scope

The FleX Competition will support the development and demonstration of solutions to value and trade electricity system flexibility. The flexibility to be traded could be provided from a range of sources, including:

  • energy storage
  • demand-side response (DSR)
  • demand reduction or generation – from domestic or business consumers

The FleX Competition has been developed to provide support for the trial of pilot flexibility exchanges. These flexibility exchange pilots must enable distribution-connected sources of flexibility to access both local and national markets for flexibility. Examples of the flexibility services or products which could be accessed through the exchange include:

  • Network constraint management (distribution and transmission);
  • National balancing services (i.e. Frequency Response, reserve products);
  • Wholesale energy trading;
  • Balancing Mechanism;
  • Reactive power services

In addition to the development and trial operation of the commercial and consumer engagement aspects of flexibility exchanges, the projects will also procure or develop the technical processes and equipment required to support these exchanges. This may involve developing and building:

  • An online centralised platform to host the exchange (or a decentralised alternative approach e.g. Blockchain).
  • Software and Application Programming Interfaces for flexibility sources to access this exchange.
  • Any additional hardware, software and communications links required for monitoring and control of flexibility sources accessing the exchange.

The main deliverable for this Competition is an operational trial of a pilot or prototype flexibility exchange using a substantive number of real, individual flexibility assets.

The majority of project activity and the majority of project costs are expected to be delivering work at Technology Readiness Levels 5 to 8.

The prototype or pilot flexibility exchange must reach at least Technology Readiness Level 7 – operational prototype – by the end of the project.

Eligibility

Projects may either be delivered by sole organisations or by a consortium of project partners, which must be UK-based.

If the project is delivered by a project team or consortium a single project application must be submitted to BEIS by the lead project member – the project co-ordinator.

Project team members can be:

  • UK-based (see footnote 2) private sector companies;
  • UK academic, research, public, third sector or community organisations working as
    part of a project consortium with private sector organisations.

The sole applicant or project co-ordinator for the funded activities must have the necessary skills, experience and capacity to effectively lead the proposed project, including the trial activities.

To be eligible for funding, the large majority of project activity (defined as at least 75% of total eligible project costs) must be experimental development.

A minority of activity (defined as less than 25% of the total eligible project costs) in any project funded by the Competition can be industrial research.

Funding Costs

The total BEIS budget for the Competition is up to £4 million which is expected to fund up to 3 demonstration projects.

Project teams can apply for up to £2.5 million grant funding for each flexibility exchange demonstration project.

Any project selected for funding in this Competition will be required to provide significant private sector funding alongside the grant funding provided by BEIS.

Exclusions

Funding will not be provided for:

  • Simulation-only projects
  • The development and trialling of technologies that have already received or expect to receive funding for a similar project at a similar scale
  • Technologies or approaches which are already widely or commercially deployed (in the UK or elsewhere) or which are very similar to those being tested in other existing or planned innovation projects
  • Very early stage basic or applied research, at TRL 1 or 2
  • The development and trial of systems which at the start of the project are already at the commercial design stage or ready for commercial deployment, at TRL 8 or TRL 9

For further information, scope and eligiblity criteria, please visit the competition guidance notes here.