Demand response ‘vital’ even if Hinkley gets green light, says Flexitricity

Demand response will form a "vital part of a secure, affordable and sustainable energy future" and shouldn't necessarily be viewed as a competitive alternative to the delayed Hinkley Point C nuclear project.

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That is the view of demand response solutions provider Flexitricity, which claimed that large nuclear projects don’t offer the flexibility of DR schemes – which should be explored to compliment the Hinkley project and deliver a “more economical, more secure, and greener” grid.

The company has questioned the claims made last week by the union for energy workers GMB, which suggested that demand response schemes were “fanciful nonsense” and called on the National Grid – which is actively investing into demand response – to be stripped of its system operator role.

Flexitricity’s founder and chief executive Alastair Martin said: “After eight years of using demand response to fill in when nuclear power stations fail, I do not understand why the GMB believes that Hinkley C nuclear power station and demand response are competing alternatives. They’re not. Whether or not Hinkley goes ahead, active, flexible customers will be a vital part of a secure, affordable and sustainable energy future. 

“First of all, Hinkley C is about energy. Demand response is about flexibility. If built, Hinkley’s job will be to churn out as much electricity as possible, around the clock. It won’t be flexible. But in electricity, supply and demand have to match every second. It’s the job of demand response to deliver that, by moving consumption around, away from times of stress and towards times of excess. That makes the whole grid more economical, more secure, and greener.

“Secondly, demand response is needed whether Hinkley C is built or not. Building Hinkley does change the shape of what demand response has to achieve.  Hinkley will be the single biggest element in the national transmission network, so a sudden failure at Hinkley would be a big loss to the system.  Failures like that do occur; they’re part of real-world engineering. At Flexitricity, we’ve been using demand response to support the Grid during failures for eight years now.”

Untapped potential

In stark contrast to GMB’s claims that using demand response was a “bonkers policy”, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) recently proposed that demand response could act as a possible alternative to Hinkley point C amidst a focus on developing other renewable and energy efficiency measures.

While the debate on demand response effectiveness rages on, the concept is beginning to build traction – as highlighted by our top 10 demand response projects. The list of projects demonstrates how a number of different sectors are adopting demand response models due to the vast economic and environmental benefits that it offers.

Unnerved by GMB’s claims, Flexitricity is looking to introduce demand response into the domestic sector, saying there is “untapped potential” in introducing household demand response solutions on a national scale through its power response campaign.

Alex Baldwin & Matt Mace

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