As many as 1.6 million homes and businesses took part in Britain’s biggest exercise to date in flexibility shifting of peak power load, the National Grid has confirmed.

Run over the winter, the ESO’s Demand Flexibility Service saved over 3.3 TWh across 22 events supported by retail suppliers.

Confirmed after the Grid checked participation rates, the three most engaged regions – the south of England, East Anglia and the east Midlands – together switched consumption capable of meeting the needs of 3.3 million homes.

Changing consumer behaviour to lighten loads on an increasingly strained transmission network has been the ESO’s goal, since flex trials began in the autumn.  Paying cash to consumers willing to move consumption out of peak periods has been the incentive.

Co-ordinating up to 31 suppliers and aggregators was among the exercise’s challenges.

All but two of the 22 events were pre-arranged via licenced suppliers, thereby lightening the minute-by-minute pressure on engineers administering them from NG’s central control facility in Warwickshire.

Cold weather in January saw the project’s only “live” events.  At these time of genuine potential black out, the Grid said customers shaved more than 20 per cent off levels otherwise expected in pre-notified appeals to save power.

The operator confirmed that the exercise will be repeated next winter, almost certainly in upgraded form.  Details will be announced in late summer.

The Grid’s head of markets Claire Dykta observed:  “Across this winter the Demand Flexibility Service successfully demonstrated the interest of UK consumers and businesses in playing a more active role in balancing our electricity needs. Their work, alongside the providers involved in the Demand Flexibility Service helped to maintain normal service for all GB electricity users.”

“We are now working with industry and consumers to establish how this world leading service can grow from strength to strength and support the continued evolution of consumer flexibility in the UK.”


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