25,000 home flexibility study launched in GB

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The CrowdFlex study will investigate the potential for flexibility from electric vehicles (EVs), heat pumps and batteries in the over 25,000 homes across Britain.

The study being launched by National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) in partnership with Octopus Energy and Ohme is aimed to show how changes in energy price and demand affect consumers and impact on a flexible smart grid powered increasingly by renewables.

It will analyse customer energy use patterns to demonstrate how they might change their behaviour and charge electric vehicles, heat pumps and home batteries at different times to access cheaper, greener power.

The analysis will look at how those usage patterns change in response to price signals from Octopus Energy’s smart tariffs and direct instructions from Ohme’s smart electric vehicle chargers and mobile app.

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“Technologies like electric cars and heat pumps have a key role in helping Britain to reach net zero. But there’s a lot for us to learn about how consumer behaviour can shape that journey,” says Carolina Tortora, head of innovation strategy and digital transformation at National Grid ESO.

“This project will give us some really exciting insight into how smart tariffs and technologies can influence the way people consume electricity and help us balance the grid. As greater volumes of less controllable renewable power join the system, electricity consumers are only going to become more important in that balancing act.”

EVs and heat pumps are expected to play a key role in Britain’s pathway to net zero. National Grid ESO has estimated in its Future Energy Scenarios there will be 11 million EVs on British roads by 2030, and there is a government target to install 600,000 pumps a year by 2028.

Effective use of the flexibility of both these resources will be key to managing the future power grid.

National Grid ESO and SSEN expect to use the results to better understand how customers respond to flexibility opportunities and the potential of domestic flexibility in national and local grid balancing. This should pave the way for households to provide more flexibility to grids.

The project will be funded by National Grid ESO and SSEN’s Network Innovation Allowance, which provides an annual allowance to fund innovation projects that create value for National Grid ESO’s customers, reduce costs for electricity consumers and accelerate progress towards net zero.