UK Power Networks and PassivSystems win grant for home demand response trial

An innovative project controlling domestic use of electricity to manage peak demands has won a grant.
From press releases - 30 May 2012 09:00 AM

An innovative project controlling domestic use of electricity to manage peak demands has won a grant. 
Starting in July, the £140,000 project – supported by £98,000 from the Government-backed Technology Strategy Board – will involve UK home energy management specialist PassivSystems fitting energy monitoring equipment in up to 20 homes across UK Power Networks’ operational areas to explore how customers could be more flexible with their electricity use.
Monitoring equipment fitted inside the homes will measure the occupants’ use of energy, such as heating, lighting or hot water, as well as any electricity being generated in the home. This data will allow UK Power Networks and PassivSystems to understand how the customers’ electricity demands could be made more flexible. In turn, this would allow the electricity grid to operate more effectively by reducing peak demand and matching available supply – yet without having any negative impact on the customers’ comfort or convenience.
The study will build a profile of the occupants’ energy use and explore how these flexibilities could be delivered using home energy management. Should this approach succeed, it could postpone or avoid the need for capital expenditure on the low-voltage electricity network and cut the costs of connecting more renewable energy to the grid, benefiting both customers and energy distribution companies.
Liam O’Sullivan, programme director of Low Carbon London at UK Power Networks, said: “As part of our Low Carbon London programme, this research will bring together our understanding of peaks on the electricity network with a clearer understanding of consumer behaviour to potentially reduce network reinforcement costs. At the moment, expenditure on our network corresponds with peak demand growth. If it is possible to curb that through home-based control systems – without having a negative impact on our customers – that could result in savings which could be shared with our customers.”
Dr Mike Patterson, research and development director at PassivSystems, said: “If this study successfully demonstrates that electricity network operators can reduce investment in network reinforcement as a result of consumer demand flexibility, it will be possible to reduce the infrastructure costs of moving to a low carbon electricity sector. As these costs are ultimately borne by customers, society as a whole benefits economically from an efficient energy system.”
The study will look at the way household demand for electricity from immersion heaters, heat pumps and electric vehicles can be controlled to manage the amount of electricity flowing through the low voltage electricity network, flattening or reducing demand peaks. Distribution Network Operators, such as UK Power Networks, are responsible for balancing demand for electricity and ensuring reliable supply in the face of growing consumer demand from appliances, electronic products and the future growth in demand expected from heat pumps and electric vehicles. UK Power Networks is currently investing £360million per year in the electricity networks it owns and operates in London, the South East and the East of England to keep power supplies reliable.
Once the feasibility study is finished, a plan will be developed for a live trial where homes respond to peak demand in return for demand response payments, saving the customer money while reducing the need for network reinforcement. PassivSystems estimates grid reinforcement cost savings in the order of £14million to £21million a year could be delivered across the UK through responsive demand. 
For further information, contact Niamh Arnett in the UK Power Networks press office on 0845 302 7292.
Notes to Editors:
UK Power Networks distributes power to a quarter of Britain’s population through its electricity networks serving London, the South East and the East of England. The company's 5,000 employees are dedicated to delivering a safe, secure electricity supply to about eight million homes and businesses via its networks of substations, overhead lines and underground cables. 
UK Power Networks will be distributing the electricity at many venues for this year’s international sporting events. This year we are investing £360million in our electricity networks and around £1.8billion in the five years to 2015. We are also undertaking trials to ensure our electricity networks support the transition to a low carbon future.
Customers pay their bills to supply companies but UK Power Networks delivers the power across our three areas. The industry regulator Ofgem sets an allowed revenue to distribution companies so that they can maintain safe and reliable electricity supplies. If customers are unfortunate enough to be affected by a power cut or have another issue with the electricity supply to their property, they should contact UK Power Networks. 
PassivSystems is a home energy management company that automates the management of all home energy loads. The company’s smart home energy platforms provide the customer with optimised comfort and minimal inconvenience while delivering significant savings – an average of 23% in a recent trial. These savings are delivered using patent-pending learning algorithms – based on building performance data, occupancy patterns and weather data – to control energy loads. Electricity, gas or oil users can deploy PassivEnergy to manage heating, cooling, solar PV, heat pumps, energy storage and other loads. The platform also offers utilities the possibility of Distributed Energy Resource management capabilities without compromising on privacy, latency or scalability. PassivSystems was founded in 2008, is headquartered in the UK with a subsidiary in Denmark that opened in late 2011.
For further information about PassivSystems contact Toby Guise on 07527 395736.
Technology Strategy Board
The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency, working to create economic growth by ensuring that the UK is a global leader in innovation.  Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit