National Grid encourages large businesses to boost power demand this summer

Energy-intensive businesses are being urged to voluntarily shift their energy usage in exchange for a payment in the coming months, as the National Grid anticipates a summer of low peak demands on the system.

The National Grid’s Summer Outlook report, released late last week, confirmed that summer minimum demand is expected to be 500MW lower than last year. The peak transmission system demand forecast for high summer is 35.7GW, while the summer minimum is 17.3GW.

The downward trend of summer demand levels is attributed to a rise in renewable generation, primarily from solar and wind energy. This reflects last week’s figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which highlights that more than 25% of the UK’s electricity is being produced from renewable sources.

With the UK set to benefit from excess levels of energy, National Grid is calling on industrial, commercial and public-sector sites to participate in its Demand Turn-Up (DTU) service, which pays firms to increase energy demand at times when the country’s wind and solar resources are producing more energy than the system can cope with.

The report reads: “With falling minimum demands on the transmission system, we anticipate there may be times this summer when there is more generation on the system than is needed. In order to balance the system, we will need to curtail flexible generation this summer. It may also be necessary to instruct inflexible generators to reduce their output.”

Demand Turn-Up

Under the DTU service, launched last May, National Grid has adopted a pioneering scheme, called Footroom. Developed by demand response provider Flexitricty, Footroom works by sending a signal to connected businesses, notifying them of an approaching increase in wind and the opportunity to increase demand. Those who do respond receive a payment in addition to the extra electricity.

For example, a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generator could shut down for a short period, or a water pumping station could pump more at a time required by National Grid. This requirement would likely increase in the summer months, especially overnight or at weekends.

According to research, more business-led demand response initiatives would reduce demand on the electricity grid and lower national costs by £8.1bn by 2030. Flexible energy generation is a route being “actively explored” by energy-intensive multinational firms such as Rolls-Royce and Nestlé, while delivery firm UPS is set to trial decentralised power generation and onsite storage systems at its London operating base.

George Ogleby

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