Smarttalking: Overcoming barriers to Demand-Side Response

Published: 14 July 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

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 Smarttalking: 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”.