Results from 25,000 households reveals huge potential to use domestic flexibility to manage power system

Active households who can respond to requests to turn up or turn down their electricity usage, in response to price signals, could significantly reduce peak electricity demand and boost usage when required, a project involving 25,000 households has found.
The Crowdflex project, undertaken by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution, National Grid ESO, Octopus Energy and Ohme, investigated how the households responded to price signals. Using Octopus and Ohme’s large customer datasets and analysis products, Crowdflex analysed the impact of two types of signalling to customers:
• Customers choosing to move long term from a flat tariff to a time-of-use (ToU) tariff
• One-off signals, which asked customers to sign up to a ‘Big Turn Up’ or ‘Big Turn Down’ event and rewarded those who responded over a specified two-hour period
Customers on ToU tariffs reduced their demand during the evening peak by 15-17% and maintained that reduction over six months. Households that owned an electric vehicle (EV) showed even greater ability to flex their demand, achieving reductions of up to 23% in the proportion of a household’s daily demand consumed during the evening peak.

The Big Turn Up saw an increase in average electricity demand expected during a household’s evening peak by 131% – and in households with an EV the ‘turn-up’ was 617%. The Big Turn Down request saw a 41% reduction in non-EV households and 59% reduction for EV households.

The very high level of participation by EV drivers suggested a willingness in those households to provide EV assets for flexibility.

Matthew Hamilton, SSEN Project Manager for CrowdFlex, said: “Flexibility will play a key role in the future smart electricity system and we are committed to ensuring that all customers have an opportunity to participate and benefit from offering domestic flexibility services. …
“Establishing that households are willing and able to respond to signals to flex their demand is the first step. We hope to take this work forward by considering practical trials to prove reliability, repeatability and to investigate the costs of domestic flexibility.”

Geoff Down, Innovation Manager, National Grid ESO, said: “System flexibility is vital for future system operation and we’re encouraged to see that engaged consumers can, by participating in Time of Use tariffs, help manage and reduce peak electricity demand. With the use of low carbon technologies in the home set to grow rapidly, this project helps us understand the exciting opportunities for us in the future.”

Flexibility from customers is seen as an important tool to help manage short-term grid fluctuations in future, both reducing the need for additional peak power and managing periods when demand is too low to run the system efficiently.

Download the full report here

Further reading
Low demand over the bank holiday could help get the public into the smart electricity system
System operator to launch new ‘footroom’ product on 7 May to manage low demand periods
System Operator reinstates temporary ‘footroom’ option ODFM as it faces another low-demand Covid summer

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