Demand response spreads to the media as Scottish publisher embraces smart-grid thinking

The Herald and Times Group has discovered a new revenue stream worth up to £250,000 after becoming the first newspaper group to sign up to Edinburgh-based aggregator Flexitricity's demand response initiative.

(L-R): Stuart McLean, print centre manager at Herald and Times Group; and Ron Ramage, chief executive of Flexitricity

(L-R): Stuart McLean, print centre manager at Herald and Times Group; and Ron Ramage, chief executive of Flexitricity

The Herald and Times Group, which publishes The Herald, Evening Times and Sunday Herald in Scotland, will allow the National Grid to access its back up generation assets during peak demand times. The contract will run for five years as part of the Capacity Market – a UK Government scheme the aims to secure new sources of energy generation.

The Herald and Times Group’s print centre manager Stuart McLean said: “We had previously been unaware of demand response and hadn’t realised its merits in terms of generating new revenue for our business. Our back-up generators - which are kept to ensure our newspaper titles including the Herald and Evening Times always go to print, even in a blackout – are now being utilised as an energy asset, helping to support Scotland’s energy security through this essential service.

“What’s more, the revenue generated will be invested in new projects within the business, helping to support jobs and growth in Scotland’s media industry.”

Flexitricity will work alongside Dumbarton-based energy consultants ESE to connect with the Herald and Times control room and deliver a range of demand response services to the National Grid. This includes the Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR) initiative which aims to reduce demand or increase generation at short notice and Triad Management which supports the Grid during peak demand periods.

Flexitricity’s chief executive officer Ron Ramage said: “Publishing is an extremely competitive sector where small margins can make a huge difference. By connecting to our network, companies like The Herald and Times Group have the opportunity to avoid costs and significantly boost their revenue with no adverse impact on their day-to-day business.

“Similarly, those partners with on-site generation capability could be called upon to deliver additional power for short periods. It’s a fully automated service with 24/7 monitoring available to all our Energy Partners from our Edinburgh based control room.”

Flexible grid

The National Grid recently revealed that the UK will have too much electricity this summer due in part to the growth in wind and solar farms. It has therefore outlined plans to balance potential fluctuations in electricity demand - which is expected to hit a record low of around 35.7GW - by offering a demand response scheme to businesses, as generation looks set to reach 67.4GW in capacity in the coming months.

As part of the initiative, the Grid is piloting a new Footroom service with Flexitricity to offer industrial, commercial and public-sector sites additional revenue if they can either decrease generation or increase electricity consumption upon request.

As the gap between supply and demand of energy in the UK becomes ever narrower, Alastair Martin, chief strategy officer of Flextricity, recently spoke to edie the important role of business in developing a robust, reliable demand response mechanism to fill in for failing power stations.

Matt Mace


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