According to the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE), as much as 9.8 gigawatts of the UK’s peak electricity requirement could be provided by businesses being flexible in their energy demand. This amounts to nearly 20% of the peak energy demand over winter 2018/19.
Managing demand in this way could, estimates the ADE, save UK energy consumers £600 million by 2020 – and £2.3 billion by 2035.
And it’s likely we’ll see more Demand Side Response (DSR) opportunities emerge for business consumers.
UK grid to go zero carbon by 2025
Only last month, National Grid announced its ambition to operate the UK electricity system as zero carbon by 2025, with DSR being a key element in achieving this goal.
At a local level, more Distribution Network Operators are trialing regional DSR schemes as a way to negate expensive capacity upgrades.
And as the volume of electric vehicles increases, there will be additional demand for both electricity and balancing services.
Consumer confusion around DSR
Many large consumers are already aware of the growing need and potential benefits of DSR. But we know from talking to businesses that deciding how best to implement flexibility can be confusing.
The market has a growing number of DSR service providers who offer different support and promise varying levels of revenue and savings. Trying to compare like with like and discern the best option requires insight and skill that many companies haven’t yet acquired.
That’s why we are keen to see the introduction of industry-wide standards. As a result, we’ve become one of six founding members to collaborate with the Association for Decentralised Energy to create a new compliance scheme and code of conduct for DSR providers.
New quality assurance scheme
And as of 15 May, that scheme – called Flex Assure – is live, so consumers can now select DSR providers who are officially approved to operate in the market.
“Flex Assure sets, for the first time in the UK, common high standards for those who coordinate or ‘aggregate’ demand response from individual consumers,” explains Dr Tim Rotheray, Director of the ADE.
“The aim is to give market participants, many of whom are focused on their primary business, assurance of the quality of service they should receive from DSR aggregators and gives these businesses increased peace of mind when they enter the rapidly-growing DSR market.”
Five-point code of conduct
The Flex Assure code of conduct focuses on five areas and proposes minimum standards across each:
- Sales and marketing – sales representatives must be properly trained and provide honest and factual marketing material to customers.
- Technical due diligence and site visits – critical energy assets must be safe from the threat of cybercrime, requiring best practice to protect customers’ data and infrastructure. To protect on-site personnel, site visits must be conducted in a safe and secure manner.
- Proposals and pre-contractual information – the pre-contracting process must be transparent and not make false promises to customers and be representative of true savings and payback to customers.
- Customer contracts – contracts must be accurate and clearly indicate any potential obligations customers may be committing to.
- Complaints – aggregators must put in place clear, transparent processes to manage complaints. Customers may also complain directly to Flex Assure with complaints about specific providers.
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