Big UK smart grid trial 'oversubscribed' for TOU rates
The Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR) project in the UK recently completed the first stage of its research into power use by setting up a series of trials with 12,000 customers, Liz Sidebotham, communications manager for the CLNR project, told the press recently. CLNR saw "a huge appetite from domestic customers for our TOU tariffs," she added, noting that the findings were preliminary.
OFGEM's Low Carbon Networks Fund (LCNF) is paying for part of CLNR, which describes itself as the UK's "largest smart grid project."
"This particular program was … oversubscribed, showing that customers are willing to take ownership of their electricity consumption in return for lower bills," she added. "Through these trials, we've seen early signs that customers are happy to change their usual daily routines -- putting their dishwasher on overnight instead of during the day, for example -- to benefit from a cheaper tariff," Sidebotham said.
"This is hugely important because achieving a degree of customer flexibility in significant numbers is a win-win situation; offering customers a way to save money and network operators a means of cost-effectively reducing network demand at peak times."
The project is testing a number of products and services to "ensure Britain's electricity networks are fit for the future and ready for the mass uptake of low carbon technologies such as solar PV, heat pumps and EVs."
The UK government wants to cut carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.
Led by Northern Powergrid and partners British Gas, EA Technology and Durham University, the CLNR project will continue to study power use patterns, "customer flexibility and trial pioneering new smart grid technology across electricity networks in the Northeast and Yorkshire regions" throughout this year, CLNR said.
Next on CLNR's agenda is providing "further insight into customer flexibility and the effect of various interventions such as demand-side response, where customers are incentivized to reduce their electricity usage or increase their generation in response to a signal from the electricity network operator," Sidebotham said.
"The current debate around the capacity margin needed to meet the UK's future energy needs has largely overlooked the role of smart grids and demand-side measures, but if customers are willing to be flexible with how and when they use electricity, it would offer a cost-effective solution in the drive to create a sustainable, low carbon energy sector," she added.