Demand flexibility provides electricity to ten million households

demand flexibility

The Demand Flexibility Service, put in place by Natonal Grid ESO across the 2022/2023 winter, has reportedly saved over 3,300 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity as consumers and businesses did their part to reduce demand at key times. In total, this was enough to power nearly ten million homes across Great Britain.

1.6 million households and businesses participated in the Demand Flexibility Service (DFS), delivering demand reduction across 22 events held over the winter.

Southern England, East of England and East Midlands led the way by each saving over 370 MWh across the 22 events held over winter 2022/2023, while Welsh consumers and businesses delivered an estimated electricity reduction of over 348 MWh across the winter, enough to power over one million households, roughly 80 per cent of Wales’ 1.3 million homes. 

“Across this winter the Demand Flexibility Service successfully demonstrated the interest of UK consumers and businesses in playing a more active role in balancing our electricity needs. Their work, alongside the providers involved in the Demand Flexibility Service helped to maintain normal service for all GB electricity users,” said Claire Dykta, head of markets at National Grid ESO.

“We are now working with industry and consumers to establish how this service can grow from strength to strength and support the continued evolution of consumer flexibility in the UK.”

The 22 sessions covered both live events to balance Great Britain’s electricity network and monthly test events to deliver savings for consumers. According to ESO, the tests demonstrated interest and enthusiasm for consumer flexibility on a scale not previously seen in the UK.

The national smart meter network operated by the Data Communications Company (DCC) also played an important role in facilitating greater consumer participation, helping to connect consumers to a new range of smart applications used by providers for this service. In total consumers and businesses delivered 3,300 MWh of electricity reduction at key times, helping the ESO to balance the network as usual across the winter.

Introduced as an enhanced action to support operation of the network, the Demand Flexibility Service was used twice for live events in January 2023 to support the management of the network. While the ESO’s day-to-day operational tools allowed it to operate the network as normal without the active use of DFS to manage margins, this service demonstrated the level of interest and engagement in consumer flexibility. Consumers and businesses notably delivered their highest output for these live events, 20 per cent higher than for regular monthly or onboarding test events.

The ESO is currently undertaking a holistic review of the DFS alongside industry participants and consumers to assess how the service could be improved in future. The outcomes of this review will be published in the summer.

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