Flexitricity steps in after major power station fails

A sudden failure at Spalding Power Station yesterday led to Flexitricity delivering emergency demand response. 

Just after 3pm on Monday, September 5, Intergen’s 860MW gas-fired station, which provides enough power for around one million homes, stopped generating. Flexitricity’s demand side response network kicked in to respond within a second, reducing demand at its network of industrial partners to cope with the initial shortfall in supply.

At 3.06pm, two minutes after the initial failure, National Grid requested more power from Flexitricity, and the company immediately sent further start instructions to a mixture of standby and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generators across Britain.

This intervention kept the lights on and prevented any unplanned outages for energy customers. Meanwhile, National Grid arranged for other power stations to ramp up their output. At 4pm, with the Grid stabilised, Flexitricity’s portfolio of sites returned to normal operation. Shortly after, Intergen announced that Spalding was once again ready to power up.

Dr Alastair Martin, founder and chief strategy officer of Flexitricity, said: “This was a textbook case of demand response in action. Within one second, key industrial sites turned down their consumption. Shortly afterwards, different types of small generator were started. After less than an hour, the event was over and services returned to normal.”

In order to keep the lights on, Flexitricity turned down industrial consumption and mobilised both CHP generators and standby generators. CHP generators are often needed by their local sites for other duties, but at other times they provide a cheap and clean alternative reserve service, which National Grid uses several times each week. The standby generators are usually kept for power outages at each individual business, but can be used by Flexitricity in the relatively rare event of a major power station failure.

Dr Martin said: “On this occasion, National Grid needed a lot of megawatts fast, so they asked us for everything: load turndown, CHP and standby generation.

“For our customers, demand response is a commercial activity which they participate in because it’s worth it. For National Grid, it’s a vital part of balancing supply and demand and maintaining supply security.

“Keeping the lights on is a team game, involving everyone from traditional power stations to agile demand response. Spalding dropping out is a big event, but it’s one that National Grid should be able to handle without power cuts. And they succeeded – in part because our customers delivered when the Grid needed them.”

He added: “When Spalding power station is running, it’s cleaner than most other fossil-fuelled generators, though CHP comes out better whenever there’s a need for heat. “Demand response spends most of its time in reserve, just in case something happens. When something does happen, as it did today, flexible customers and small generator owners stepped up to fill the gap.

“They delivered quickly, and only for the short period in which they were really needed.”


Issued by Weber Shandwick on behalf of Flexitricity.

For more information or high resolution images please contact:

Dyan Owen: 0141 333 0557/ 07738 086 818/ dowen@webershandwick.com

Steven Flanagan: 0141 333 0557/ 07557 210989/  sflanagan@webershandwick.com

Notes to Editors

About Flexitricity

Flexitricity partners with businesses throughout the UK to provide reserve electricity to National Grid.

The word “Flexitricity” means “Flexible Electricity”. The company looks for flexibility in electricity consumption and generation, creating revenue for energy users and generators using the flexibility they find.

Flexitricity was founded in 2004 by Dr Alastair Martin, a professional energy engineer with experience ranging from gigawatt-scale coal and nuclear power stations.

Based in Edinburgh, the company introduced the concept of aggregated load management and flexible generation. 

National Grid’s estimate of savings to consumers can be found at: http://www.nationalgridconnecting.com/how-dsr-could-transform-our-energy-system/

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