National Grid’s Power Responsive programme is driving change

Robert Owens, Vice President Demand Side Management, attended National Grid’s Power Responsive Conference last week. Here he shares his thoughts on the programme and how SmartestEnergy is supporting it.

We know that increasing low carbon decentralised generation is only half the equation for creating the smart, flexible electricity market of the future. Energy consumers, particularly large businesses, have a crucial role to play as well.

National Grid’s Power Responsive programme, launched in 2015, aims to “galvanise businesses, suppliers, and policy makers into making mass demand side response participation a reality and ensure that energy bills remain affordable at all levels”.

As an aggregator of distribution-connected generation, supplier to over 1,000 industrial and commercial companies, and provider of DSR services, SmartestEnergy is very invested in this vision.

The businesses we work with are already beginning to view their consumption as a dynamic asset, something they can use more flexibly to both reduce their costs and support the grid. Now, with the Power Responsive programme in place, the schemes and incentives to drive behaviour change are very accessible.

Last week's conference celebrated the success of the programme so far and focused on how to continue engaging businesses with DSR.

Dieter Helm describes it as moving from a 20th century centrally planned system to a 21st century zero marginal cost system – the economics of the internet not wholesale markets in the traditional sense.

A lively discussion was had around the need for a level playing field, but the point was made that even on a level playing field we are all armed with different bats and different balls and not necessarily playing the same game!

The challenge for this more distributed energy world was highlighted with the stat that in support of tenders for the forthcoming Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) tender with there have been some 20GW of requests for distribution connections. This is an unprecedented scale and presents a real challenge for the network operators and developers looking to pursue new opportunities.

It was good to hear of examples of National Grid and Distribution companies looking to work together to provide a joined up service to customers offering flexibility to the system. Such cooperation will be key to realising the value for assets and market participants.

We look forward to continuing to support this initiative by helping our customers unlock the benefits of Demand Side Response and widening the portfolio of National Grid services we can facilitate.

> See the Power Responsive animation, featuring our CEO Robert Groves