UK utility shows balancing peak demand is all fun and games


Video games could be an answer to grid balancing – and prove highly beneficial to both power networks and households. At least, that’s what the numbers are saying from a trial by Britain’s Northern Powergrid.

The utility has successfully completed a gamification trial whereby households were incentivised to reduce consumption at times of high demand through a mobile game.

More than 2,000 customers competed for cash prizes during the trial by turning off unnecessary appliances including televisions, washing machines, and lights in exchange for points – the energy saved as a result was converted into points, which in turn, increased their chances to win cash prizes, with up to £350 available each month.

Players saved an average 11% at 305W, with some dropping as much as 4.9kWh in usage through the game.

The company serves eight million customers across 3.9 million homes and businesses in Britain’s North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, and have stated that mobile games have proved an important tool to manage power demand and reduce customer billing.

The company says better grid balancing technologies will be increasingly important as the widespread adoption of renewables such as rooftop solar, electric vehicles (EVs), and domestic battery storage gets closer.

Northern Powergrid, Newcastle University and GenGame have entered into a £400,000 joint project with Ecotricity and EnAppSys to explore how mobile games can incentivise EV owners to use their vehicles to support the grid via charging technologies.

Andrew Webster, project manager at the utility said: “By making comprehensive findings widely available – including our trials, errors and triumphs – we hope to jump start other gamification programmes for operator colleagues and play our part in benefiting energy customers across the whole country, not just our patch.”