New research reveals smart homes can flatten peak demand

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SMART energy technologies hold a ‘significant positive impact’ in the home, including carbon reductions, energy bill savings, and improved system resilience, new study by Loughborough University, the Solar Trade Association and Advance Further Energy reveals.

The report examines both the individual household benefits of installing smart energy technologies, and the contribution they can make to the whole electricity system, when scaled-up across a portfolio of 4.4 million homes.

Equipping this number of homes with solar, battery storage and intelligent controls to manage electricity use can provide enough rapid flexible power to flatten spikes in demand, helping to balance the electricity system without the need for costly reinforcements.

Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of the Solar Trade Association, commented on the research: “We now have an opportunity to make our homes active contributors of the flexibility needed to maximise the potential of renewables, rather than simply passive consumers of electricity.

“The evidence is here – deploying smart energy technologies across the country not only cuts carbon and helps households save on their energy bills, but can actively minimise spikes in electricity demand which place the grid under intense stress.

“It is not simply the homeowner who stands to benefit from solar and energy storage, but everyone.”

The results of the research are showcased in Solar Trade Association’s new report Smart Solar Homes: The Journey to Net Zero.

Dr Philip Leicester, Research Fellow at the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST) at Loughborough University commented: “This report demonstrates the impact that detailed modelling and simulation research can have on the development of sound, evidence-based policy and investment decision-making.

“Our work shows that domestic PV in combination with electrical energy storage offers significant benefits in addition to higher household PV self-consumption.

“These include system flexibility services, such as management of year-round peak electricity system demand.”

The report states: ‘In the UK, the growing use of technologies such as electric vehicles and heat pumps will drive electricity demand up.

‘More electricity consumption will lead to heightened stress on the power system, particularly when electricity use is at its highest, such as during winter evenings when
households across the country switch their heating on.

‘The use of renewable energy generation alone to completely decarbonise these peak demand times is not always possible, as the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine.

‘As a result, encouraging energy flexibility from those connected to the grid, by reducing, increasing or shifting the time of energy use, will become vital.’

Dr Andrew Crossland, Director of Advance Future Energy, added: “The decarbonisation of our homes represents a key pillar of a more sustainable, more resilient and more affordable energy system.

“We hope that this flagship report also shows how simple policy changes can accelerate the transition to the smart power system we all want to see.”