Demand Side Response: What goes on behind the wheel?

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

Insights into how consumers use and charge their Electric Vehicles (EVs) is needed to design a DSR service that people will want. This research fills that gap in two parts; firstly, understanding what consumers want when they charge their EVs and secondly, how a select group of FRED triallists have reacted to DSR events within the trial.

EV Drivers: Which charging style resembles yours?

FRED participants are pioneers who have already adopted some of the low carbon technologies envisioned for our future.

This report, Demand Side Response: What goes on behind the wheel? summarises some of the things consumers want from EV charging and DSR. The personas are based closely on five participants from the FRED project with names/details changed to protect their identities.

Ben, 40, lives with his wife and children in Reading. He drives a Nissan Leaf, has solar panels and zappi.

  • Ben works from home so can charge his car using solar during the day (if it’s sunny!).
  • He also charges overnight with an off-peak tariff to ensure he starts every day with a full battery.
  • Ben really likes the idea of DSR, but it would cause him problems if his car wasn’t fully charged each morning.

Sarah, 60, has invested in tech in her Leeds home, including a Tesla Model S, solar panels, ground-source heat pump, home battery and zappi.

  • Sarah’s car journeys are mostly local with longer trips every few weeks.
  • She turns off the timed EV charger overnight if weather forecasts are good for solar.
  • Sarah feels DSR has made no different to how she uses her car or the cost of charging.

Joe, 25, works in IT, loves green tech and believes convenient control is king. He lives with his parents near Glasgow, drives a Nissan Leaf with access to solar, a home battery and zappi.

  • Joe can manage two or three daily commutes on one charge, but tends to charge every day
  • He charges at work when he can and tops up to full again by charging at home overnight with a timed boost at cheap off-peak rates.
  • Joe would prefer DSR didn’t cause his car to charge outside his tariff’s off-peak hours.

Chris, 70, is retired and lives with his wife in rural Essex. He drives a Nissan Leaf, has an air source heat pump, solar panels with diverter (for hot water) and zappi.

  • Chris uses his Leaf mostly for local journeys and charges whenever he’s home using solar power the household isn’t using.
  • He also uses a local public charger two or three times a week – “it’s free!”
  • He feels he’s barely noticed DSR and isn’t sure he understands how people will benefit

Mark, 55, lives with his wife in Devon, with grown-up kids nearby. He has a Hyundai Kona, has solar panels with diverter (for hot water) and zappi.

  • Most days Mark drives fairly locally. But occasionally he drives to Manchester and Newcastle for work, planning charges en route.
  • At home he charges on surplus solar and his variable overnight off-peak tariff, if rates are cheap.
  • Mark feels the trial’s DSR activity has been “seamless” and understands the need to help balance the grid.

Read the report

Demand Side Response: What goes on behind the wheel?

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