By Paul Homewood
h/t Ian Magness
Households will be paid to ration their power usage at peak times as the National Grid scrambles to reduce pressure on Britain’s energy infrastructure.
From Friday up to 1.4m households will be paid if they cut their normal electricity consumption at certain two-hour periods during the day, as an experiment to see how households’ behavior might be changed.
The move is a pilot scheme intended to pave the way for a broader overhaul of the country’s billing system as the UK ditches reliable but dirty fossil fuel plants.
Officials want to encourage people to charge cars and use appliances at different times during the day and night to reduce the pressure on the electricity grid and limit the amount of new capacity that needs to be built as demand for electricity grows.
The results of the trial will help the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), which manages Britain’s electricity supply and demand, work out how best to design and run the system as the UK shifts away from fossil fuels.
Isabelle Haigh, head of National Control at ESO, said: “System flexibility is vital to help manage and reduce peak electricity demand and keep Britain’s electricity flowing securely.
“This trial will provide valuable insight into how suppliers may be able to utilise domestic flexibility to help reduce stress on the system during high demand, lower balancing costs and deliver consumer benefits.”
Demand for electricity is set to soar in coming decades as millions of people ditch their petrol and diesel cars for electric models and swap gas-fired boilers for electric heat pumps or hydrogen made from renewable electricity, as part of the Government’s push to cut carbon emissions.
This will happen at the same time as coal and gas-fired power stations make way for more and more wind and solar power, which are intermittent, requiring greater management of the grid to make sure demand always matches supply to prevent possible blackouts.
The number of new power stations, batteries and other infrastructure projects that need to be available to meet that overall demand will depend on the extent of daily peak requirements – for example, when everyone comes home and switches on the kettle and television after work.
Officials want to see if they can lessen the peaks and spread out demand, for example by encouraging people to charge their cars overnight instead of when they get home, or running appliances when they are at work rather than in the evening.
This could be achieved by energy suppliers rolling out time-of-use tariffs such as the Octopus’s Agile tariff, which means customers buy electricity at cheaper rates outside of peak hours, with appliances automatically set up to optimise their energy usage.
In the trial running from Friday, 1.4m customers of Octopus Energy who have smart meters will get free electricity for certain defined two-hour periods, including 4.30pm to 6.30pm, if they cut their use below usual levels.
The trial builds on a similar effort Octopus Energy ran on November 5, 2020, when customers cut 60pc of their power usage over a two-hour event.
As well as spreading out demand, it is hoped electric cars could eventually be used as a sort of giant battery system, charging up when there is a lot of electricity being generated by wind turbines, and selling electricity back to the grid when needed if their owners do not need it at the same time.
Guy Newey, of Energy Systems Catapult, said: “Making the whole system more flexible is an absolutely essential part of the transition [to a lower carbon grid].
“How do you make the most out of your energy infrastructure? Smart tariffs and digital technology has huge potential in that area.
“We don’t know yet how consumers are going to respond. But if a lot of it’s automated and going on in the background, and I know I’m going to get a slightly lower price, then I think we’ll find that people are pretty happy to do that.
“And if that avoids the need to build however many gigawatts of new energy then that’s potentially a really important saving for consumers. It’s all about making the system as smart as possible and this trial seems an important step in that direction.”
James Eddison, co-founder of Octopus Energy Group, said: “It’s a tremendous opportunity to unlock flexibility at an unprecedented scale, and we can’t wait to get started.”https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/02/08/national-grid-pays-households-ration-power-use/
We have long known why the ridiculously expensive smart meter programme was wheeled out.
And when customers inevitably fail to respond to voluntary rationing, what then? Compulsory rationing is the only option left.
But the idiots in charge seem to think that transferring a bit of demand from peak periods will solve all of our problems.
Good luck with that when the wind stops blowing for a week or two, as it does regularly every winter.