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Smart talking: Overcoming barriers to Demand Side Response

For the UK’s to achieve the ambitious target of Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, our energy system must become cleaner, smarter and more flexible.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committed up to £9.78 million of funding through the Flexibly-Responsive Energy Delivery (FRED) programme, to support innovative domestic Demand Side Response (DSR) demonstration projects.

Energy Systems Catapult is working with Evergreen Smart Powermyenergi, and Swansea University to understand the potential of DSR technology.

Demand Side Response

Demand-side response (DSR) uses smart technologies to increasing consumer demand for energy when supplies are high or reduce demand when supplies are low.

Innovative digital platforms can  reduce consumer demand at times of peak energy consumption or take advantage of times of excess renewable generation by working with smart technologies such energy storage, heat pumps and electric vehicles (EVs).

EVs could offer valuable capacity to balance the grid as more people start to drive them in the future. However, consumers will reject DSR if it prevents them using their cars as they want to – it needs to
be designed to fit into their daily lives.

Flexibly-Responsive Energy Delivery trial

The FRED trial is testing a digital platform developed by Evergreen Smart Power which integrates with smart technologies, such as electric vehicle charging or smart hot water tanks, to manage electricity demand in real time based on price signals from the electricity grid.

The Evergreen platform works with myenergi’s zappi, a smart EV charger that can also use power from the electricity grid or from household solar panels (if consumers have them) to charge their electric vehicle.

zappi allows consumers to manage how their car is charged. For example, by scheduling the vehicle to begin charging at a certain time of day or night, by specifying the number of kWh they want delivered to the car or the level of charge they want in the battery.

Energy Systems Catapult is gathering insights about consumers’ expectations, understanding and experiences of this flexible approach to energy consumption.

Key points

EVs are no longer for early adopters or green focussed households meaning that energy demand for charging will increase. DSR could form part of the solution in helping the UK realise its net zero goals but this requires consumer buy-in, with service that not only meet their needs but make their lives better.

For this latest report, we undertook a nationally representative study to identify how to optimise DSR services to meet consumer needs, with 1500 people completing an online survey. To ensure the validity of the study, we recruited EV owners with a smart charger, EV owners without a smart charger and people in a household that would be looking to replace their car with an EV in the next two-years.

Our survey found that nearly 20% of EV and prospective EV drivers already would strongly prefer their energy supplier to manage the charge in their vehicle. With no DSR tariffs currently on the market, the concept of supplier managed charging will be new to the majority of consumers.

Key findings from the report, Smart talking: Overcoming barriers to Demand-Side Response, include:

  • The majority of EV drivers are not sure about supplier-managed charging and are likely to be curious about how it works.
  • Customers who better understood the idea of balancing energy demand were a lot more positive about the idea of flexibility.
  • Customers need to feel in control, even when their charge is being managed by their supplier.
  • Cost is important but not the most important thing to everyone.
  • New DSR related tariffs present opportunities to offer new optionality with tariffs such as a “flat energy rate for miles”.

Read the report

Smart talking: Overcoming barriers to Demand-Side Response

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