National Grid has kicked off the second stage of its award-winning Equinox DSR pilots after recruiting over 1,000 homes equipped with heat pumps.

During the project’s first stage last winter, just under 400 households achieved a total network turndown of 10.8MWh – the energy needed to make more than 300,000 cups of tea.

Equinox is the latest and among the biggest of Britain’s flex trials, as DSO and retailers gauge the acceptability to consumers of mass-participation load-shifting to ease pressure on grids.  NG and partners promote Equinox and heat pump use as delivering lower energy bills too to homes.

Taking Equinox into its second stage this winter, NG is enlisting help from project partners Octopus Energy, Scottish Power and Sero.   In its role as a distribution system operator (DSO), it will do through new commercial and technical arrangements, designed to unlock flex potential from low carbon home heating.

The Equinox project began in December 2022 and will run for exactly three years. The second stage of the trial launched last month.

Last winter, 386 heat pump owners across National Grid’s distribution franchises in the Midlands, South West and South Wales signed up. They turned off their heat pumps for 22 two-hour periods between 5pm and 7pm, in exchange for savings on their bills over the trial period.

During the trial, households provided a total measurable household turndown of 10.8 MWh equivalent, says NG, to the power needed to make 300,000 cups of tea.

Customer response was overwhelmingly positive, with 92% of participants reporting they were moderately or extremely satisfied with their experience

Matt Watson from National Grid DSO said: “The initial results from our Equinox trials show that heat pump flexibility can help manage the demand on electricity through the distribution network while simultaneously saving customers money on their energy bills.

“Feedback from participants so far have shown that these kind of flexibility measures do not compromise the comfort of households and that the customer experience was positive.

“As thousands more homes switch to heat pumps, flexible systems like this are going to be even more crucial to balance demand at key times. Trials like Equinox’s show that customers are willing to tweak their everyday lives to save money and help balance the system.”

As with the first trial, the second was open to any Octopus Energy, Sero and ScottishPower customers with heat pumps connected to National Grid’s distribution network in the East or West Midlands, South West or South Wales.


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