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Lockdown highlights need for increased data and domestic flexibility, says Kaluza

Image: Kaluza.

Image: Kaluza.

The UK’s lockdown has highlighted the need for increased data visibility and domestic flexibility according to Kaluza.

In its white paper the energy tech firm outlined how domestic flexibility has helped to support the grid during lockdown, in particular vehicle-to-grid (V2G) electric vehicle (EV) charging technology, which Kaluza said provided the highest volumes of domestic flexibility of all the assets on its platform.

V2G chargers exported almost 50% more in the first week of lockdown (23 – 29 March) than the previous week. This rate then continued throughout the entirety of April, Kaluza said, citing an example from 5 April that saw V2G chargers help balance the system for a 12 hour period.

V2G activity from 5 April 2020. Image: Kaluza.
V2G activity from 5 April 2020. Image: Kaluza.

Between 12pm and 4pm, the EVs were used to charge as the overall grid had a high percentage of renewable generation and negative system imbalance requiring additional load. Renewable generation capacity on the system then dropped below 30% between 4pm and 9pm, with the system imbalance indicating that additional capacity was needed to supplement the additional load. The EVs therefore exported into the grid, providing some of that additional capacity.

The role domestic flexibility is playing in the UK’s lockdown highlights the need to continue its development, particularly in light of its ability to “bridge the gap” between high levels of renewables and increases in heat and transport electrification.

However, domestic flexibility wasn’t the only focus of the white paper, which also delved into the effects on demand. In comparison to system peak demand data from April and May 2019, overall electricity demand has fallen by ~17%, a daily decrease of around 0.11TWh.

This is largely caused by the shutdown of the C&I sector, with residential level demand increasing by 15 – 20%. Whilst the C&I demand reductions are likely to bounce back as the sector reopens, residential demand trend “could be sustained for longer depending on behavioural changes that emerge post-lockdown”.

However, an issue raised in the white paper is that of data. C&I premises, Kaluza said, have relatively granular demand monitoring but at the household level there is an “absence of insight into conditions”.

Whilst Kaluza did praise smart meters for helping to gather more data on domestic demand and usage, it pointed to only ~30% of homes having them installed.

“There has thus been an inability to holistically understand the true extent of the decrease in C&I demand and the increase in residential demand caused by lockdown,” the paper states.

It therefore calls for “increased data and visibility at all levels” to help facilitate the UK’s transition towards net zero.

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