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Flexitricity: Emergency power generators of publishing group help to stabilise the British electricity grid

In July 2016 the emergency power generators of the Herald and Times Group’s printing works started contributing towards the stability of the British transmission grid. Flexitricity, an Alpiq Group company, generates added value by making these assets available to the grid operator National Grid, demonstrating how intelligent demand control benefits both customer and utility.

The Herald & Times Group, publisher of well-known Scottish newspapers The Herald, Evening Times and the Sunday Herald, owns emergency power generators to ensure that the daily papers are delivered on time even in a blackout. In July 2016 the Herald & Times Group teamed up with Flexitricity to use its emergency generators to provide National Grid – the British transmission system operator – with reserve services to help stabilise the British transmission grid over the next five years. Flexitricity is responsible for the utilisation and operation of the assets, monitoring and operating them remotely from its 24-hour control room, so that they are available when National Grid needs them.

The publishing industry is extremely competitive; even the slightest of margin contributions can have a substantial impact on a company’s annual results. “By integrating their reserve capacity into our portfolio, companies like the Herald & Times Group have the opportunity to avoid costs and significantly boost their revenue with no adverse impact on their day-to-day business,” says Ron Ramage, CEO of Flexitricity. Over a period of five years, the collaboration with Flexitricity will generate up to 250,000 British pounds in additional income for the media company (approximately CHF 325,000).

Transmission grid operators are facing great challenges, as renewable generators displace traditional fossil-fuelled generators. The increasing number of decentralised generation facilities will result in increased fluctuations and irregular load peaks within the power grid. Ensuring future grid stability requires intelligent solutions for the regulation of demand and supply. Flexitricity’s solution shows how these intelligent approaches can be successful in a real-world implementation.

Since entering the market in 2008, Flexitricity has been pooling flexible electricity generation and consumption capacity from energy-intensive industrial, service and public-sector companies. Flexitricity offers this capacity to the transmission and distribution grid operators as positive or negative reserves for system services. In Europe, the UK is the most highly developed market for demand control, and Flexitricity is the pioneering company in this market.

The Herald & Times Group is one of the most successful and oldest media companies in Scotland. They publish The Herald, the Evening Times and the Sunday Herald newspapers, are based in Glasgow and print more than 300,000 newspapers every day.