Energy consortium launches ‘UK’s largest domestic flexibility study’

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National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) have teamed up Octopus Energy and smart charging platform Ohme for what is described as ‘the UK’s largest ever home energy flexibility study.’

CrowdFlex, as the study will be called, will start in June and involve over 25,000 households.

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.

Carolina Tortora, head of innovation strategy and digital transformation at National Grid ESO, commented: “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.

“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.”

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.

The findings will show how changes in energy price and demand affect consumers and what impact that has on a flexible smart grid powered increasingly by renewables.

According to National Grid ESO’s Future Energy Scenarios, there will be 11 million electric vehicles (EVs) on British roads by 2030, and there is a government target to install 600,000 pumps a year by 2028.

The consortium is set to gain ‘unparalleled insight’ into EV driver behaviour using consumer, energy and transport data from Ohme and Octopus Energy.

National Grid ESO and SSEN will use the results to better understand how customers respond to these opportunities and the potential of domestic flexibility in national and local grid balancing.

David Watson, CEO and founder of Ohme, added: “The journey to electrification is well underway in the UK but there’s a pressing need for more sophisticated collection and analysis of real-world data in order to maximise grid capacity to cope with increasing demand.

“Ohme’s intelligent charging technology can harness consumer data, energy data and transport data to gain unparalleled insight into actual EV driver behaviour, which has the potential to unlock a new universe of mass-market flexibility.

“We believe that by working in partnership across the entire mobility-energy value chain and sharing these valuable insights, we can transform energy use in the UK.”

The project will be funded by National Grid ESO and SSEN’s Network Innovation Allowance (NIA).