National Grid pulls plug on demand side scheme

The future of demand side management in the UK is under the spotlight after National Grid announced that it had failed to find enough participants for its demand side balancing reserve scheme

The scheme was created to ease the strain on the grid in the peak evening demand hours of 4pm to 8pm. Although National Grid had hopes of cutting demand by 177MW, just 30MW of offers from willing companies were received. National Grid insisted that there was no question of the lights going out this winter. However the cost of doing so might now increase as older power plants my now be called upon to operate. Demand side response measures were expected to be considerably cheaper.

Under the emergency scheme, which was used when power plants broke down last winter, businesses could either cut their total electricity usage, or switch to using alternative source of off-grid power such as a back-up generator.

Many industrial users are believed to have already taken steps to reduce energy use in the peak periods to avoid triad charges. These companies would not have been eligible for the demand side balancing reserve scheme.

A spokesman for a large industrial user told energyzine that demand side management was still too much of an unknown quantity for many organisations and was seen as a risk not worth taking. ”It has a long way to go before making a significant impact on the UK energy market,” he said.

Writing to would-be participants in this winter's scheme, Cathy McClay, head of commercial operations at National Grid, said: “Despite National Grid amending the DSBR service via a consultation in September 2015 to encourage participation over the peak, it is clear this has not been successful.”

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