National Grid rolls out flexibility service to deal with cold weather snap

The National Grid will roll out a ‘demand flexibility service’ on Monday evening to pay households that use less energy during high levels of demand, with three coal-powered generators set to standby as the nation braces for its latest cold weather snap.

National Grid rolls out flexibility service to deal with cold weather snap

Image: National Grid

The National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) has confirmed it will launch a quickfire version of its Demand Flexibility Service trials between 5-6 pm on Monday (23 January). The service pays customers to use less power during high demand peaks, which is expected because of a snap of cold weather.

The UK has faced below-freezing temperatures over the last week, with the Met Office issuing severe weather warnings for snow and ice. National Grid claims that the decision does not mean that electricity supplies are at risk, with households told not to worry.

The National Grid has also confirmed that three coal-powered generators would be warmed up and placed on standby, but they might not need to be used. Coal-powered generators were put on standby during the cold weather spell in December, but were not used.

National Grid ESO first launched the Demand Flexibility Service on a trial basis in early 2022, in partnership with Octopus Energy. This enabled it to prove the proof of concept for a wider scheme, which it has been scaling up through a series of demonstration periods in partnership with some of the UK’s biggest energy retailers including British Gas and Ovo Energy.

The idea is to help homes save on their skyrocketing energy bills, by paying them to help reduce peak demand, thus building flexibility in to the energy system and reducing pressures.

A total of 314.2 MWh of demand reduction was recorded during the first two test periods, the ESO has confirmed. The first test saw energy consumers decreasing their electricity use by 50% more than anticipated, the proportion being 35% for the second.

More than one million homes and businesses have tested under the ESO’s scheme, collectively saving some £2.8m.

Commenting on the announcement, Sarah Honan, flexibility policy manager at the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE), said: “It’s great to see the DFS launched into its first real action after a successful testing period – during these difficult times in energy, it has already proved itself as a valuable tool and households have consistently over-performed and this evening marks an important opportunity to demonstrate how flexibility can make people part of the solution.

“The winter period is a challenging time for homes and businesses across the UK and we are excited to see the DFS make a meaningful difference for consumers in the future of the UK’s energy system.”

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