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This project ended in Oct 2021 and is now closed.


Electricity Flexibility and Forecasting System

Funding mechanismNetwork Innovation Competition (NIC)
DurationJan 2018 - Oct 2021
Project expenditure£3.339M
Research areaStrategic
  • West Midlands
  • East Midlands
  • August 2021

    "Project Deliverable 8 (Trials Execution and Knowledge Capture) has now been completed and the evidence documentation has been submitted to Ofgem. Trials Exi…

Project Description

The transition from DNO to DSO will involve performing new functions which will in turn require new systems to support them.  This project is to explore in detail the additional functionality required as a DSO, to evaluate the potential options and implement systems that provide that new functionality.   

This will include:

(i)    Creating weather adjusted forecasts for load and generation at different time frames and adjusting these for planned flexibility service despatch in order to determine the nature, duration and frequency of expected constraints;
(ii)    Determining the optimum set of actions to manage potential constraints including evaluating the suitability of flexibility services;
(iii)    Communicating flexibility services requirements to the market and creating commercial agreements for those services;
(iv)    Executing flexibility services including arming, execution and validation of delivery and payment; and  
(v)     Sharing information with interested parties to avoid conflicts in flexibility service use.

The project will consider the optimum degree of integration with existing systems and whether simplified alternatives to full optimised power flow analysis can provide sufficiently reliable information.

EFFS will work closely with the ENA Open Networks project which is specifying the functional requirements for DSO operation and the likely data exchanges. EFFS is also working together with FUSION and TRANSITION, NIC projects by Scottish Power Energy Networks and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks respectively that are also supporting DSO transition. 


We expect the roles and responsibilities of DNOs to change as they transition towards a Distribution System Operator (DSO) function, reflecting the increasing impact of low carbon generation and the decarbonisation of heat and transport.   

The increased amount of renewable generation is expected to result in a greater need for balancing services by National Grid as the System Operator, with much of these services being provided by customers connected to the distribution network.  

At the same time the DNOs are looking to use flexibility services to defer or avoid reinforcement where this is economically advantageous.   This raises new challenges for DNOs in terms of how they determine, procure and enact their long term and short term requirements for flexibility services and how the various parties supplying or using flexibility services coordinate with each other.   

Processes and tools will be required for: 

  • Long term flexibility service requirements evaluation
  • Short term flexibility service requirements evaluation, and service triggering
  • Data exchange with other flexibility service providers and users to reduce third party impacts and for conflict management

EFFS will contribute to the latter two requirements, focussing on operational timeframes, but supporting analysis up to 6 months ahead. 


The project will deliver a practical robust and accurate system capability that will enable a DNO to actively manage the provision of flexibility services necessary for transition to becoming a DSO.
Having specified requirements, the project will consider the technical options for delivering the required functionality.  The selected technical option will then be built to support a short trial, to demonstrate that the software can support the functionality specified.  

To minimise costs and timescales, we plan to use customers that are already participating in providing flexibility services to our other projects in Cornwall and the East Midlands, and/or customers already providing flexibility services to EDF.  Similarly EFFS does not include the creation of a flexibility trading platform, as there are several other projects looking to create such platforms.

This trial focuses on validating the algorithms and processes within the software work so that the blueprint can be adopted by other DNOs. 

This will enable a speedier, simpler DSO transition. 


The project method is to deliver a robust DSO system capability, by:

1 – Forecasting Evaluation

Determine optimal forecasting arrangements for a variety of time-frames from a few hours to several weeks ahead. This considers the sources of data, methods of forecasting, accuracy of forecasts and critical timings for other processes e.g. gate closure.   It considers available load forecasts provided by National Grid, whether combining forecasts is beneficial and options for improvement such as within-day correction. This will consider both load and generation of various forms and will determine how to correct the forecasts for planned operation of flexibility services, known operation of export limitation systems etc. This work will be procured from an external academic/expert supplier.

2 – Co-ordination

Builing on the work by the Open Networks, EFFS will determine optimal arrangements for co-ordination and conflict resolution with other parties using flexibility services. This could include different providers e.g. direct provision or via a third party (aggregator or supplier), or price signals for real-time trading, advanced notification, dynamic amendment of systems e.g. ANM or merit order.

3 – Determine Requirements & Technical Specification

Incorporate the learning from Methods 1 & 2 and the output from the Open Networks Project to finalise the set of functional requirements for a DSO for real-time operation and short term planning, that the EFFS system needs to support.

A technical assessment will then consider the way in which those functional requirements can be supported, looking at the various options for adapting the functionality of existing systems and introducing new systems.  This will determine whether a single system is required for long and short term requirements or whether these are better managed separately. This will maximise the use of open standards and modular solutions using data available to all DNOs. DSOs may take on further responsibilities such as local network balancing on behalf of the TSO. Any proposed systems should be able to support the potential range of DSO activities and will involve data exchanges with third parties including triggering services. 

4 – Implementation & Testing

The systems specified by Method 3 will then be built, implemented and tested to prove their suitability. Method 4 is anticipated to involve development of AMT Sybex Networkflow software, part of the Affinity suite.

EFFS Project Overview

You can view a short video overview of the EFFS Project here or to read the Project Overview click here to download the PDF.