Octopus and British Gas customers paid £7m for avoiding peak-time energy use

British Gas has also posted its results with the scheme, confirming a total of £1.8m in payments to customers for avoiding the use of energy-intensive devices such as tumble driers and electric vehicle chargers.

The National Grid Energy System Operator (ESO) first launched the Demand Flexibility Service on a trial basis in late 2022, in partnership with Octopus Energy. The idea of the scheme is to reward homes for avoid using energy during peak times by incentivising them with lower energy bills, thus building flexibility into the energy system and reducing pressures on the grid.

Over the course of winter 2022/2023, a total of six events test were held under the scheme. Domestic customers with some of the UK’s largest energy firms were paid in line with the amount of energy saved over two-hour periods.

Octopus Energy, the pioneer of the scheme, has this week confirmed that it shifted more than 1.86GWh of electricity demand over a total of 14.5 hours this winter. Nearly 700,000 customers took part, accounting for around half of the total demand shift, making Octopus the largest participant in the Service.

A total of £5.3m was paid to participating Octopus customers.

Octopus’s head of flexibility Alex Shoch said: The last five months have been a huge step in the right direction for our future green grid. We’ve proven that households can play a significant role in balancing the grid and moving us away from dirty fossil fuels.

“It’s now time to reflect, learn and develop this scheme further before next winter. We have the chance to kick coal plants into the history books, and the more households in the UK take part, the faster we will get there.”

The UK Government is mandating all remaining coal-fired electricity plants to come offline by October 2024. However, it did explore extending the lifespan of some facilities this past winter, to maintain energy security amid the price crisis.

There are not any additional Demand Flexibility Service events scheduled yet. The National Grid ESO and UK Government intend to work together to explore a new version for winter 2023/2024.

British Gas

While the ESO has not published full results from every participating energy supplier yet, British Gas has posted its own figures.

The firm has rewarded some 200,000 customers with a total of £1.8m under the Demand Flexibility Service and recorded a shifting of 147MWh. The average customer was paid £28.56 for taking steps to change their routine. 70% of customers changed their cooking and clothes-washing times, while almost half used their tumble driers and dishwashers at off-peak times.

British Gas has stated that it will explore the potential of running the scheme throughout the year.

In an updated Energy Security Plan published last week, the UK Government stated: “Building a smart and flexible energy system that actively manages the scale and nature of demand will enable a more efficient, secure and lower cost system.” It called the Demand Flexibility Service a “prudent response” to the energy crisis.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie