A BWCE Living with Renewables event (March 2020) and a webinar (June 2020) explored the question ‘how do we manage energy demand?’.

The Challenge

To respond to the climate crisis we need to both increase the generation of renewable energy and electrify home heating and transport to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels such as gas and oil. This is known as the ‘energy transition’.

However, the decentralised and intermittent (weather dependent) nature of renewables plus the expected increased demand of new electric appliances is leading to increased pressure on our electricity grid and making it harder to balance demand and supply, especially at peak times when electricity supply is more carbon intensive.

If we do not find effective ways of more closely matching the supply of renewable electricity with demand from consumers we face both a continued reliance on fossil fuel energy generation plus the prospect of electricity grid upgrades with major implications in terms of cost, resource use and environmental impact.

Some useful resources

In response to some of the issues raised in our online event in June 2020 we have put together the following links to further information.

How green is my energy?

The National Grid in partnership with WWF and others have developed a free app which shows you when the ‘greenest’ time to use electricity is and offers real-time information on how power is currently being generated. Watch the short video to find out more

Western Power Distribution have produce the Carbon Tracer app which you can download onto a smart phone. You can use this to check what the energy mix is in your postcode based on regional data. It also provides some sub station data.

What Time of Use electricity tariffs are available?

These are tariffs where you pay less outside times of peak demand, such as early evening. The best known tariff is Octopus Agile, but there are several others aimed mainly at EV owners.

How do I find out more about smart meters?

Smart meters that measure household energy use in real time are essential for demand management, especially for time of use tariffs. They don’t record any household details (e.g. name or address) apart from gas and electricity and use their own secure closed communication system rather than the internet.  See the Centre for Sustainable Energy for an overview, including smart meter myths.

Smart Energy GB is the independent national campaign for smart meter roll out, and has further information on issues such as security and data sharing

How do we move demand away from peak times, such as early evening?

BWCE’s  Flex Community project is exploring ways of doing this related to hot water heating, space heating and electric vehicles. The project is testing a cloud based platform to support consumers to automate some of the demand shifting.

What progress has been made on using electric vehicles as storage?

One large scale trial is Deeldezon in the Netherlands (in Dutch but you can click on an English version in the page menu) where EV battery storage is being used to manage local demand peaks. Ovo Energy is also running a pilot project.