The £50,000 megawatt: High stakes Triad season is upon us

The cost of using electricity in the Triad periods is set to rise again this winter. Mark Cox, Key Account Manager, discusses when we are most likely to see the Triads and how best to avoid them.

Half hourly electricity demand over the Triad periods (the three highest half hourly peak demand periods between November and February separated by 10 days) is National Grid’s mechanism for covering the cost of operating the transmission system.

Many large energy users attempt to avoid these periods in order to save money on their energy bills each year, while embedded generators will ensure they are exporting as much power as possible in order to receive Triad payments for their role in reducing overall demand (although this benefit is being cut over the coming years). 

For both consumers and generators, the stakes are high in Triad season!

The cost of these Triad periods has been rising steeply. In winter 2013, the national weighted average cost of one megawatt (MW) of demand was close to £29,000 and in 2017, this cost is just below £48,000. And it is set to increase again in 2018 to £53,000.

(Source: SmartestEnergy Non-Commodity Costs Webinar, October 2017)

As the energy system becomes increasingly complex, it’s important for both generators and consumers to actively participate in the system. A simple and valuable way to do this is to implement a Triad management plan.

This can be as simple as agreeing steps to be taken to ramp up generation or reduce consumption on a day when a Triad is possible, and training your on-site teams to respond.

The Triad periods are not known until the end of the season, so there may be many days within the winter period where action is required to maximise your chances of hitting the Triads.

Historical analysis can be useful for predicting Triads. Over the past 12 years, none have occurred in early November, during the Christmas period, or in the last two weeks of February and the most common days are Mondays and Thursdays.

Also, Triad peaks typically occur between 5.00-5.30pm when domestic and commercial demand overlap and increase pressure on the system, although the half hourly periods around this time are also considered as increased Triad management activities can skew expected demand.

But we all know that past performance does not guarantee future results, so these historical patterns just provide some interesting context to the challenge of predicting Triads.

We provide a free Triad warning service to alert customers when a Triad is likely. Our Energy Management Centre monitor demand forecasts, weather and embedded generation to identify likely Triads and send an email warning, typically before 11am to give as much notice as possible.

While regulatory direction of travel on the Triad method of transmission charging is hotly debated, they are worth more than ever this winter so taking action is crucial. We are just a few days out from the start of the season, but it’s not too late to establish a response plan and sign up to our warning service.

> Read more about Triads

> Contact us to sign up for warnings

Once your business has identified the ability to respond to Triads, this flexibility could provide a new revenue stream through Demand Side Response (DSR) to support the grid in peak times. Contact us here if you would like to discuss these opportunities with our Asset Optimisation team.