News Energy trading trial supports Ministry of Defence battle against climate change.

Energy trading trial supports Ministry of Defence battle against climate change.

SSEN Distribution and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have trialled a ground-breaking new trading partnership, which could allow the armed forces greater control over their energy bills and support their energy independence.

As a major landowner and energy user within SSEN’s southern England licence area, the MoD is looking to manage its energy use and make maximum use of its assets to increase energy independence.

​​​​​​​For the first time, the MoD has engaged in flexibility trading through the TRANSITION project, by responding to a request to turn down energy demand to help balance the local network during times of peak demand.

The trial was undertaken with the support of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) at RAF Benson and Dalton Army Barracks, Oxfordshire, during Spring 2023. Further trials, including in peer-to-peer trades, are being explored, paving the way for improved future energy management across the defence estate.

Major General Richard Clements CBE, Director of Basing & Infrastructure, said: “The Army has its sights set on Net Zero, addressing the challenges of climate change while supporting delivery of operational capability and meeting the needs of our people. “By reviewing our energy use through initiatives like the flexibility trading trial, we can better understand how and where to achieve greater, ‘greener’ efficiencies. This will enable us to build a more sustainable Army estate, which protects both our future resilience and the environments where our people live, work and train, as well as supporting the UK Government target of Net Zero by 2050.

DIO’s Chief Executive Mike Green said: “DIO is pleased to be part of these exploratory steps into how we manage electricity usage across the Defence estate. Having facilitated the first Central Government Department participation in these Flexible Service trials, enabled by SSEN, we have gained useful insight into how we can manage efficiencies through existing assets and build much-needed resilience and independence into our future energy models, at a time when demand is set to increase significantly.

“And, crucially, through these trading partnerships, we are helping to find solutions to meet pressing challenges on the climate change agenda.”

Flexibility is the ability to shift the timing or location of the generation, storage or consumption of electricity in response to a request. Flexibility is crucial for SSEN Distribution because with electricity demand set to increase by 50% by 2035, every part of the existing network must be used as efficiently as possible. Recruiting customers who are able to flex their energy use can allow more renewables and balancing technologies – such as batteries – to connect to the network, without requiring network reinforcement. Distribution has been working to develop new markets for flexibility providers who have not previously engaged.

Brian Wann, Project Manager on the TRANSITION project said: “Flexibility trading delivers efficiencies to all parties, allowing network operators and their connected customers to make the most of available capacity. This will be essential for regional energy resilience and allow all participants more control over their energy bills.”

“The Ministry of Defence has been the largest organisation to participate in our flexibility trials and a crucial contributor in helping us understand the potential of the fully-fledged markets that we are working to create.”