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The role of demand side response in meeting power shortages

Published: 11th April 2016


Reading Hugh’s piece on shortage of generating capacity for next winter has helped reinforce the view I have formed over recent months and that is that demand side response (DSR) has become critical to the future of security of electricity supply in the UK.

Working with National Grid’s Power Responsive team to develop an Academy on DSR and helping to put together a book to support the course has helped me to understand better the issues, the schemes available and how consumers can help themselves to address this impending shortfall.

Having said this there remain major obstacles to developing fully DSR across the industry. The first has to be the lack of co-ordination of activity across transmission and distribution networks. We have nine National Grid DSR schemes and at the same time Distribution Network Operators (DNOS) are developing their own schemes totally independently with little apparent dialogue.

We have members with standby generation that could not only replace their own demand, but also export energy at times of shortage. Yet they are prevented from using the generators through tortuous requirements from DNOs. Speaking to one member with premises in more than one DNO with well over 100 MW of diesel generation they have so far spent over a year and £1.5 million on paperwork trying to get agreement from the DNOs to use this equipment. Once agreement is reached they will then face additional costs for reinforcement and connections.

Clearly some direction is needed on the way forward, with Ofgem recently wading in with the following; “DNOs in future will need to manage flows as Distribution System Operators. We will set out our expectation of DNOs and develop thinking on their future role.”

This of course will not help the predicted shortfall for winter 2016/17 so it will be a sensible precaution even if you are not chasing Triads or avoiding red period DNO charges to have an emergency plan available in the event that power shortages were to occur. And if you are on a flexible supply contract you’d be well advised to constantly review your buying strategy as winter approaches as tightness of supply normally leads to short term price spikes.

Eddie Proffitt – Technical Director of the Major Energy Users’ Council
Writing in Buying & Using Utilities – Spring 2016

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