The operator of Britain’s commercial electricity system has said that firms will be given the opportunity to assist in ensuring supply matches demand this summer.
In its annual Summer Outlook report, issued on 7 April, National Grid explained that it was becoming increasingly challenging to operate the system during periods when demand from consumers was low. This was due in part to the rise of intermittent forms of generation, such as wind and – especially in the summer – solar power.
In order to help address this challenge, National Grid has been developing so called “demand-side response” measures, as part of which businesses can offer to vary their electricity demand in return for payments. An example of this is National Grid’s new Demand Turn-Up service: this incentivises participants with energy-intensive processes, like pumping and heating, to shift them to off-peak times.
By increasing demand when there is too much electricity coming onto the grid, this service helps to match supply and demand on the system.
National Grid also said that it might be necessary to ask intermittent generators to cut their electricity output in order to prevent excessive levels of power coming onto the grid.
Peak electricity demand on the system over this summer is forecast to be 35.7GW – down from 37.5GW last year and the lowest level on record – while the minimum demand is projected at 18.1GW, down from 18.4GW in 2015.
This reduced demand is largely driven by the increase in “embedded generation” – projects that are not connected to the national power grid. The use of more efficient appliances in homes and businesses is also an important factor.
Based on forward pricing, National Grid said that the UK would be a net importer of electricity through its interconnectors this summer.
The report highlights some of the major changes occurring in the electricity system, not least the increasing importance of services that are able to offer forms of flexibility.