UK Businesses Dip Toes in Demand Response

A number of London businesses, including the convention center ExCel, a major department store and a visitor attraction, are working with UK Power Networks to reduce their electricity use at times of peak demand or system constraint, in return for payments. Customers participating in the Low Carbon London program agree to reduce their demand, when called on to do so, by a defined number of megawatts of electricity between times of estimated higher demand on the electricity network. Customers also might be called upon to reduce demand where UK Power Networks is managing a constraint on the network, such as a fault on a piece of equipment. As part of the demand response trial, UK Power Networks pays industrial and commercial customers, via an aggregator.

Initial aggregators participating in the trial include Flexitricity, EDF Energy and EnerNOC. UK Power Networks did not name the department store and visitor attraction participating in the trial.

Participating customers curtail their electricity demand from the network by either switching to back-up generation or increasing electricity output from installed combined cooling and heating power equipment, or simply by reducing their electricity usage.

Setting up contracts with aggregators to provide demand response service is an established way of helping to balance the UK’s national transmission system, which is managed by National Grid. Now UK Power Networks is exploring the potential of such a process to balance electricity supply and demand locally on the electricity distribution network.

Systems can be installed within the customers’ premises to enable demand response by remotely starting generators or curtailing demand. Alternatively, the customer can choose to remain in control of its generating equipment. Also, the customers can opt out at any time, ensuring that any participation does not have an adverse effect on its core operations.

The Low Carbon London research will also look at whether businesses that can be flexible with their electricity use can also adjust their demand in response to intermittent wind generation.

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