Britain’s electricity system operator is congratulating itself on delivering flex services at scale for the first time in the nation’s history.

Five completed trial events in recent weeks of the Demand Flexibility Service have shown curtailments by consumers at scale can ease network loading and yield cash savings to users.

Data harvested from the first two events shows consumers have exceeded savings targets by at least 35%, the National Grid ESO said.

With over 1 million homes connected through 26 power suppliers signed up to the NG’s Demand Flexibility Service, its five trial events are on course to deliver 0.78 GWh in demand reduction, according to the ESO.

The DFS was initiated to quantify for the first time the feasibility of DSR among aggregated households, as collected by their suppliers. Majors such as British Gas, EoN, Octopus and EDF are on board.

In the first test household last month, providers delivered a 50% increase in electricity reduction compared to expectations, as their customers responded for the first time to DFS promptings to shift loads out of early evening windows.

Across the second test, consumers also continued to deliver greater than expected engagement, reducing their electricity use by 35% more than expected.

Across both tests so far measured, the Demand Flexibility service delivered a total of 314.2 MWh of demand reduction.  On carbon intensities prevailing across the UK backbone, NG-ESO calculates that equates to the CO2 absorbed by a forest of 10,000 trees in a year.

Further tests will be carried out across the length of the service. Each supplier will run at least two more every month between now and the end of March.

The continuation will give providers the chance to sign up more customers – both household or enterprise – into the flex service.  Success garnered should give licenced suppliers a positive message to take back to bill-payers, or so the NG-ESO believes.

Craig Dyke, the NG-ESO’s head of national control, observed: “Delivering the first of the Demand Flexibility Service test events is a major milestone in the evolution of consumer flexibility in the UK.

This service successfully proves that consumers up and down the country are standing by to get involved in flexibility solutions. These test results show that if called upon this service will help the ESO balance the national electricity network this winter and is a valuable addition to the ESO’s operational tools.”

  • Earlier, six trade bodies representing energy practitioners had warned D-BEIS secretary Grant Shapps that constraints lingering across UK distribution & transmission networks imperil Britain’s attainment of Net Zero by 2050.

Generation or storage projects are facing waits as long as fifteen years in consequence of capacity chokepoints, organisations including the Electricity Storage Network told the minister, in a letter organised by not-for-profit lobbyists Regen.

The trade bodies fear such constraints are delaying billions of pounds of private investment promoting green power generation, electricity storage, heat pumps and EV rapid chargers.  


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