Demand Side Response: What consumers want from DSR

Published: 4 August 2020

Our energy system must become smarter to realise the UK’s ambition of a Net Zero carbon economy. As consumer take-up of smart technology rises and intermittent renewable energy becomes more prevalent, the need for more flexibility in the energy system is crucial for a cost effective low carbon transition.

Energy Systems Catapult is working with Evergreen Smart Power, myenergi, and Swansea University to understand the potential of this technology.

EV Charging Solutions

The FRED trial (Flexibly-Responsive Energy Delivery), is testing a Demand Side Response (DSR) software platform developed by Evergreen Smart Power that integrates and manages energy technologies in real time, reacting to grid conditions to increase or reduce their electricity consumption.

Insights into how consumers use and charge their Electric Vehicles (EVs) is needed to design a DSR service that people will buy into. 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.

The Evergreen platform works with myenergi’s zappi, a smart EV charger that can also use power from people’s solar panels (if they have them) to charge the car. Zappi also lets users set up their charge how they like, for instance scheduling a charge to run at a certain time or setting the number of kWh they want delivered to the car.

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 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. Download the report for the full details.

EV driver Ben graphic

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.

EV driver Sarah graphic

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.

EV driver Joe graphic

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.

EV driver Chris graphic

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

EV driver Mark graphic

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.