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Domestic flex could reduce peak demand by 23%, finds Crowdflex project

Average peak demand increased by 617% in EV owning households in a turn up event as part of the project. Image: SSEN

Average peak demand increased by 617% in EV owning households in a turn up event as part of the project. Image: SSEN

The Crowdflex project – run by SSEN Distribution, National Grid ESO, Octopus Energy and Ohme – has found that domestic flexibility can significantly reduce peak demand, with further reductions enabled by electric vehicles (EV).

The project investigated how 25,000 households responded to price signals by reducing or increasing electricity demand, analysing the impact of two types of signalling.

The first was enduring signals, created by customers who chose to move from a flat tariff to a time-of-use (ToU) tariff. The second was one off signals, which asked customers to sign up to a ‘Big Turn Up’ or ‘Big Turn Down’ event and rewarded those who changed their demand over a specified two hour period.

The project found that customers on ToU tariffs reduced their demand during the evening peak by 15-17% and maintained a greater ability to flex their demand, achieving reductions of up to 23% in the proportion of a household’s daily demand consumed during the evening peak.

Responses to one-off signals were a similar story, with the ‘Big Turn Up’ event seeing an increase of 617% in EV owning households and 131% in non-EV households in the magnitude of average electricity demand expected during a household’s evening peak.

The ‘Big Turn Down’ event, meanwhile, also saw significant reductions in demand compared to the average peak power demand. A 59% reduction over the period was recorded for EV households, and a 41% reduction for non-EV households.

Crowdflex is funded jointly by National Grid ESO’s and SSEN’s Network Innovation Allowance, and was first announced in 2021. The project partners are now hoping to undertake future trials to investigate the reliability, consistency and the cost of domestic flexibility.

“System flexibility is vital for future system operation and we’re encouraged to see that engaged consumers can, by participating in Time of Use tariffs, help manage and reduce peak electricity demand," said Geoff Down, innovation manager, National Grid ESO.

"With the use of low carbon technologies in the home set to grow rapidly, this project helps us understand the exciting opportunities for us in the future.”

It follows other projects exploring domestic flexibility, including the FLATLINE project which used batteries in conjunction with smart energy management systems to allow demand to be ‘time-shifted’ to better align with generation.

Run by Octopus Energy, Tirion Homes, Pobl Group, Western Power Distribution, Sonnen and Mixergy, FLATLINE found that domestic demand side response could reduce energy bills by 25%.

Another trial - FRED - also recently found that smart EV charging could reduce the cost of supplying electricity by 26%.

Meanwhile, SSE partnered Netherlands-based EV smart charging provider Jedlix in October to allow domestic customers with EV charging to provide flexibility into the balancing market at times of system need.


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