Future Energy Scenarios: National Grid models big increases in DSR and its value


National Grid modelling suggests the volume of ‘pure’ demand-side response could double within two to three years as the value of flexibility sharply increases.

The Electricity System Operator (ESO) today published Future Energy Scenarios, an annual report in which it outlines a range of pathways to enable a decarbonised economy, i.e. net zero by 2050 or sooner.

Three of the four scenarios achieve net zero via different paths, the other doesn’t meet the 2050 target.

All the net zero scenarios require a huge push on hydrogen, with associated carbon capture and storage infrastructure. Hydrogen would be used to decarbonise industry, heat, transport and power generation to varying degrees under different scenarios. The report suggests hydrogen production may largely occur via steam methane reformation, though electrolysis via offshore wind and even solar could figure.

Distributed generation

The report’s models suggest diesel generation will be off the system within the next decade or so. Diesel farms will be replaced by natural gas recips, though these too will be pushed off and ultimately replaced by hydrogen or biogas, suggests FES, likewise gas CHP.

Near-term models for storage penetration remain largely unchanged from last year’s FES document, but solar penetration has been uprated. Some 1.4GW must be added each year to hit net zero, said the ESO, and two of its scenarios outline a doubling of solar capacity within a decade.


While the system operator has tried to boost demand-side response capacity in recent years, it has struggled to attract ‘pure’ or load forms of DSR. This is because load DSR comes from industrial processes. Interrupting processes carries a cost for businesses, which is often deemed to outweigh any reward. Technical requirements for higher value services are also a barrier. That has resulted in behind the meter generation acting as DSR, because it is simpler to do using dedicated assets where rewards are sufficient.

Source: FES 2020

However, that trend could be set to change. The FES document predicts a doubling from the 1GW of ‘pure’ DSR currently on the system to 2GW within 2-3 years in two scenarios, and within five years in all three 2050-compliant pathways.

“In all scenarios we see DSR potential grow. As the market for flexibility increases it becomes more valuable; with much faster increases in the net zero scenarios as the market develops faster and uptake of smart technology,” per the document.

Large heat pumps could be a significant driver of that flexibility in the medium term, according to FES models.

Further down the track, the report models significant long-term potential for electric vehicles to provide flexibility. Autonomous vehicles could even be sent to solve local constraint issues, it suggests.

“Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) services could provide up to 38 GW of flexibility from 5.5m vehicles,” states the report. “By 2050, up to 80 per cent of households smart charge their electric vehicle and up to 45 per cent actively provide V2G services,” it adds.

See the full document here.


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