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National Grid ESO eyes domestic demand shifting following initial trials

Households with smart meters would be able to voluntarily reduce consumption. Image: Getty.

Households with smart meters would be able to voluntarily reduce consumption. Image: Getty.

National Grid ESO is eyeing increased demand side response, helping to keep the grid balanced and providing consumers with a route to cut their bills.

Reports emerged in the Times yesterday (27 June) that the operator was looking to provide consumers with a direct role in reducing demand at peak times, helping to protect the grid from blackouts.

It follows a project being undertaken by the ESO together with Octopus Energy going live in February, which is looking at the possibility of creating a service to aggregate small changes in electricity use by customers that would serve as a balancing service.

Trials ran for almost 2 months from February 11 to March 31, and offered consumers financial incentives to turn down their electricity use over pre-defined two-hour windows.

The initial assessment following these trails show that it would be a cheaper source of peak shaving than other alternatives, and therefore create consumer benefit for both those that participate and for consumers as a whole.

“Demand shifting has the potential to save consumers money, reduce carbon emissions and offer greater flexibility on the system and some forms of demand management are already used today to help balance the system,” an ESO spokesperson told Current±.

“Innovation that drives consumers value and reduces carbon emissions will always be deployed as swiftly as possible, in a tested, safe and reliable way.”

There is more work yet to be done to consider how such a service can be rolled out, they added. The operator put out a request to industry to understand the interest in it on Thursday 23 June.

Given the early stage of development, National Grid ESO does not have a set timeline for delivery at this stage.

There are a number of projects in Britain looking at the potential role of consumer based demand side response, including the Crowdflex project – run by SSEN Distribution, National Grid ESO, Octopus Energy and Ohme – which found that domestic flex could reduce peak demand by 23%.

Domestic demand shifting will be dependent on the rollout of smart meters, with the country’s cumulative smart meter installations now over 18.25 million.

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