Energy Demand

Our energy system is in the middle of a major Energy Transition, in response to the climate crisis and our need to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels. This involves making significant changes, each of which throws up new problems to solve.

What do we need to do?

Bring more renewables onto the grid

Switch from oil or gas to electric transport and electric home heating

What will this look like?

A more decentralised energy system, with small, scattered generators serving local communities rather than fewer large fossil fuel powered ones.

More heat pumps, electric vehicle charge posts and other energy technologies relying on electricity.

Problems we will need to solve

We won’t be able to centrally turn our energy up or down to match demand.

Renewable energy sources are intermittent (weather dependent) and cannot be guaranteed to meet demand, especially at peak times. Any shortfall in green energy during this time is met by turning up energy from gas or coal power plants.

Currently energy consumed during the evening peak is significantly more carbon intensive than other times of the day.

A greater reliance on electricity will put more pressure on our electricity grid, which will require costly infrastructure investment, and financial consequences for consumers, unless we make changes.

How can we meet the energy demand challenge?

The energy transition will lead to higher demand for electricity and from renewable sources that will be harder to control. If we are serious about developing a renewable powered grid we will have to find ways of managing our energy demand to better match the generation of renewables.

That is why BWCE are focused on addressing both the generation of cleaner, renewable energy, and the management of energy demand.

There are several potential solutions to the challenge of meeting energy demand, none of them are a perfect solution. BWCE aim to explore solutions that integrate the different options in our projects

Battery storage how far should we be extracting the natural resources it relies upon?

Pricing mechanisms (i.e. making electricity more expensive at peak times) may prompt people to change their patterns of energy use but will this work for everyone?

Behaviour change how can we scale it up to realise the collective impact required by the climate emergency?

Smart technology can enable people to collectively shift their energy consumption patterns but can we overcome the technological and psychological barriers to widespread adoption?

Our energy demand projects

Our Flex Community™ trial, funded by ReDream

See how we are recruiting pioneering households who are matching their demand with community solar and integrating electric vehicle charging and/ or electric home heating with smart technology to shift demand when needed by the electricity grid.

Read more

See the results of our Solar Streets project 2018-2020

Here we tested the degree to which a collective community approach can be successful in meeting the energy demand challenge at a neighbourhood level through a combination of solar PV, battery storage and a simulated Time of Use electricity tariff exercise.

Read more

More information on the energy transition

Western Power Distribution have produced a series of short videos to explain some of these issues.

Watch here

Ofgem have produced a short video and information on how to make our electricity system more flexible to better balance supply and demand.

Watch here

If you have the time this talk on ‘People and energy – a relationship in transition’ given by Louise Kingham, Chief Executive of the Energy Institute  at the University of Bath in November 2018 is a great introduction to how our energy system is changing.

Watch here