Demand Side Response could transform our energy system

Tomorrow’s electricity landscape will look very different to that of today. Demand Side Response (DSR) will play an increasingly vital role in building a secure, sustainable and affordable electricity system for the future. National Grid CEO Steve Holliday explains the significance of DSR and the rationale for the launch of Power Responsive, which aims to fuel the engine of new demand solutions.

The electricity systems that powers our world is changing. The move to a low carbon economy combined with rapid advances in technology is establishing new sources of low carbon and renewable energy and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

But supply is only half the story. The challenge now is to exploit the opportunities to rethink our approach to managing our electricity demand. This is where DSR has a vital role to play.

DSR is all about intelligent energy use. By ‘demand side’, we mean services that enable businesses and consumers to turn up, turn down or shift demand in real-time. This is a really important tool to help ensure a secure, sustainable and affordable electricity system. It can help us soften peaks in demand and fill in the troughs, especially at times when power is more abundant, affordable and clean.

If just 5% of peak demand is met by demand side response solutions it could benefit consumers by approximately £790 million.

For businesses and consumers, DSR is a smart way to save on total energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint. By encouraging greater participation, collectively we can turn an industry problem into a customer opportunity.

The growing importance of DSR

Although in its infancy, DSR is very much a reality.  We believe DSR has a vital role to play in the evolution of electricity markets. It gives customers more insight and therefore more control. It helps to reduce costs across the energy supply chain, security of supply is improved and by enabling everyone to make better use of alternative energy sources, it contributes to carbon reduction.

Equally importantly, the scope for change is very wide because DSR can encompass everyone from household consumers through to industrial users. Everyone can benefit. By delivering real-time signals, we are saying to customers: “Do you really want to use this much electricity, from this source, at this cost, right now?” And we are giving them the means and motivations to act.

In order to foster the growth of robust demand side markets, it is critical to ensure that these markets are accessible and barriers to participation are removed.

National Grid’s role

We sit at the heart of the UK’s energy system and have a clear picture of how it is changing. There is a great opportunity for DSR to play a stronger role. We want to play our part and help facilitate the rapid growth of demand side solutions.

The more businesses and organisations that get involved, commit to actions and allocate resources, the bigger the impact and the greater the potential for expanding the role of DSR.

That is why we are launching Power Responsive – a framework to turn debate into action and support the rapid acceptance of demand side solutions. The goal of Power Responsive is to provide a practical platform to galvanise businesses, suppliers and policy-makers to work together to shape the future of DSR, and deliver it in practice at scale by 2020.

Indeed, the real strength of Power Responsive is in collaboration. The more businesses and organisations that get involved, commit to actions and allocate resources, the bigger the impact and the greater the potential for expanding the role of DSR.

So, to summarise: when it comes to capitalising on the opportunities presented by the demand side, the time for action is now. At National Grid, we don’t have all the answers, but what we do know is that the technology is primed, there is momentum behind the effort and working together we can shape and share the possibilities created by demand side solutions.