Energy Triads – a great way to cut costs


Darren Lennon, head of strategic clients at npower, shares updates on the National Grid’s annual Triad announcement.

Darren Lennon

Darren LennonThe recent Triad announcement from the National Grid has come as something of a surprise, with a Triad occurring on a Friday afternoon for the first time since 1972. Triads are the top three half-hour peaks of energy demand across the National Grid, each separated by at least 10 consecutive days, over the most energy intensive period of the year: November to February.

Typically, Triads occur when high business demand meets the domestic tea-time period, causing an overall spike in energy use. This is what we’ve seen with the 2013/14 Triad period, with all Triads occurring at the 5-5:30pm peak, and the highest half-hour demand period hitting 50,694MW.

The Triad charge, named “Transmission Network Use of System” (TNUoS), is used to finance the maintenance of the UK’s electricity grid to ensure future supply. Impacting customers with half-hourly meters, the charge is proportional to businesses’ energy use over the Triad periods and linked to location.

Crucially, by avoiding energy use during Triads, businesses can save thousands of pounds on their energy bill. That’s why we work with our customers to warn them at least 24 hours before a Triad is likely to happen, enabling businesses to plan a response – whether this means ramping up onsite generators to avoid using the grid at peak times, or reducing consumption until the peak has passed.

As mentioned above, what’s unusual about the announcement this year is that a Triad has fallen on a Friday afternoon. Typically, we would expect to see businesses winding down for the weekend at this time – not ramping up their energy usage. We suspect that the reason for this peak is down to weather conditions during what was a flat energy demand season. The Friday in question, 6 December, had a half-hourly average demand of 49,927MW, and was one of the coldest days of the Triad period. A little less surprising is that the additional two Triads fell on a Monday, 25 November and a Thursday, 30 January.

When it comes to Triads, preparation is key. We offer a warning service for our customers, ensuring that we alert those operating on half-hourly meters so that they can take back control of their annual energy bill. This has helped major energy users reduce charges, with an average medium to large energy user saving about £50,000. As part of the Triad warning service, we have created a TNUoS calculator, which is available online and allows users to calculate potential energy savings during a Triad.

The forthcoming Energy Market Review will place a large focus on demand-side energy management, with Triads forming an important part of this. We recommend that customers start looking now at how they can make peak-hour billing an opportunity for their business efficiency rather than a cost.

Whether you receive your energy through us or another supplier, you can sign up to the Triad Warning service and gain further information through the dedicated team available at



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