Living with managed charging for a year

Published: 4 August 2021

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 Powermyenergi, and Swansea University to understand the potential of Demand Side Response (DSR) technology.

Demand Side Response Technology

The government has committed up to £9.78 million to smart energy innovation to support the development of innovative domestic applications for DSR. The FRED trial (Flexibly-Responsive Energy Delivery), led by Evergreen Smart Power, is one of a number of projects to win a portion of this funding through its DSR competition.

The FRED trial is testing a software platform developed by Evergreen Smart Power which integrates and manages energy technologies in real-time, reacting to grid conditions to increase or reduce their electricity consumption. Energy Systems Catapult is gathering insights about consumers’ expectations, understanding and experiences of this flexible approach to energy consumption.

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.

Key points

Over the course of this project, we have been managing charging for almost 170 consumers. So we could better recognise how a DSR could delight customers we wanted to understand the peoples’ experiences, good and bad, in as much detail as possible.

We tasked a smaller group of the triallists (~35) to use instant messenger to tell us if and when they noticed a DSR event had taken place. This allowed us almost first-hand experience of what triallists felt when they noticed, or indeed, didn’t notice a DSR event.

Amongst other things, the research to date has found:

  • Many people are unsure when DSR had happened, with 64% of DSR events going undetected, however some people were better at detecting than others
  • Consumers are likely to have concerns over managed charging if it leaves them worse off. For example, if DSR occurs outside of their cheap tariff rate, or imports from the grid instead of making use of power from their solar or battery.
  • Little disruption was caused by the DSR event but some people disliked the perception of reduced control. So visibility over whether a DSR event had occurred during a smart charging period, whether detected or not, was important.