Ofgem has approved the national rollout of a new energy system developed by the network operator, Electricity North West (ENW), which the regulator precited could save consumers in Britain up to £1 billion.
The flexibility system, called CLASS (Customer Load Active System Services), is a voltage control solution designed to help National Grid ESO manage Britain’s power network by balancing spikes in energy demand and dips in supply.
It includes the installation of voltage controllers at substations, which allow the network operator to offer balancing operations to the ESO by making small reductions to voltage.
According to ENW, this can be done through imperceptible reductions to the amount of power being used by “everything from streetlights to industry to everyday household devices.”
Described as the “first-of-a-kind”, the system already experienced success after its deployment in the North West more than two years ago, which allowed locals to benefit from approximately £7.3 million off their electricity bills as a result.
“Our updated assessment suggests that the net economic benefit is likely to be significant. Prohibiting CLASS would narrow the set of choices available to the ESO and mean consumers faced higher electricity bills than they might otherwise do” said Ofgem in its report, approving the system.
Ofgem also highlighted that the system could “reduce or, in some cases, eliminate the need for automated disconnection”.
Following Ofgem’s approval, ENW has said that it is considering expanding the system across the network. The company is also already in ongoing conversations with other network operators across Britain to support the adoption of similar schemes on a national scale.
The announcement follows ENW committing £10 million to support a gigawatt of flexibility by 2028.
“In an incredibly difficult time for all customers, we’re delighted to see a forward thinking move by the energy regulator Ofgem in making a decision that enables a national rollout for CLASS,” commented Paul Bircham, ENW’s engagement and regulatory strategy director.
“The system really is one-of-its-kind and it will benefit all electricity customers and if rolled out nationally, Ofgem have estimated CLASS could save customers in excess of £1bn.”
As part of its new business plan, ENW has pledged to invest a record £1.7 billion into North West’s power network whilst also keeping its part of the bill as low as possible for consumers.
In August this year, ENW confirmed that its customers’ electricity bills would decrease as a result of an investment in overhead lines and underground cables.
CLASS was first tested back in 2015, followed by a yearlong trial over 2017 before being rolled out across the ENW network. The trial found that the system could save customers in the north west £300 million over the next 25 years.