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EDF asks would you do the washing when the wind is blowing?

Energy companies' plans to offer flexible smart grid-enabled energy tariffs that provide cheaper power when there is abundant renewable energy available are to take a big step forward with the launch of a new pilot scheme.
From press releases - 13 February 2013 09:00 AM

Energy companies' plans to offer flexible smart grid-enabled energy tariffs that provide cheaper power when there is abundant renewable energy available are to take a big step forward with the launch of a new pilot scheme.

UK Power Networks, EDF Energy, and Imperial College London are teaming up to provide more than 1,000 EDF customers who already have smart meters installed with information on day-ahead electricity prices either via text or through their in-home smart meter display.

The year-long trial aims to find out whether people are prepared to do their washing, tumble drying, and other electricity intensive tasks on windy days or at off peak times when green power is cheap and plentiful.

The results will be published next year, and if the trials are successful, they could pave the way for utilities to introduce new tariffs that encourage customers to make use of electricity at times when energy is at its cheapest or demand is at lowest.

Niels Roberts, smart metering programme director at EDF, said the company was keen to see how the "wind twinning" approach could benefit both the supply network and consumers.

Liam O'Sullivan, UK Power Network's Low Carbon London programme director, claimed it was the first time such research had been conducted in the UK, marking a major step forward for smart grid plans.

"This ground-breaking research will test whether day-ahead pricing can influence demand, manage the network more efficiently and encourage greater use of low carbon electricity," he said.

"We want to see whether people can move their demand patterns away from peak times to support the most efficient, low carbon operation of the infrastructure which brings power to their door."

Advocates of smart grids argue that the ability to reduce power use at peak times and better match demand to supply will reduce energy costs for consumers, curb the need to investment in new energy infrastructure, and slash UK greenhouse gas emissions by limiting the use of back-up gas-fired power plants.