August 17, 2022

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The number of new power stations, batteries and other infrastructure projects that need to be...

The number of new power stations, batteries and other infrastructure projects that need to be available to meet that overall demand will depend on the extent of daily peak requirements – for example, when everyone comes home and switches on the kettle and television after work. 
Officials want to see if they can lessen the peaks and spread out demand, for example by encouraging people to charge their cars overnight instead of when they get home, or running appliances when they are at work rather than in the evening. 
This could be achieved by energy suppliers rolling out time-of-use tariffs such as the Octopus’s Agile tariff, which means customers buy electricity at cheaper rates outside of peak hours, with appliances automatically set up to optimise their energy usage. 
In the trial running from Friday, 1.4m customers of Octopus Energy who have smart meters will get free electricity for certain defined two-hour periods, including 4.30pm to 6.30pm, if they cut their use below usual levels.
The trial builds on a similar effort Octopus Energy ran on November 5, 2020, when customers cut 60pc of their power usage over a two-hour event.
As well as spreading out demand, it is hoped electric cars could eventually be used as a sort of giant battery system, charging up when there is a lot of electricity being generated by wind turbines, and selling electricity back to the grid when needed if their owners do not need it at the same time.
Guy Newey, of Energy Systems Catapult, said: “Making the whole system more flexible is an absolutely essential part of the transition [to a lower carbon grid].
“How do you make the most out of your energy infrastructure? Smart tariffs and digital technology has huge potential in that area.
“We don’t know yet how consumers are going to respond. But if a lot of it’s automated and going on in the background, and I know I’m going to get a slightly lower price, then I think we’ll find that people are pretty happy to do that.
“And if that avoids the need to build however many gigawatts of new energy then that’s potentially a really important saving for consumers. It’s all about making the system as smart as possible and this trial seems an important step in that direction.”
James Eddison, co-founder of Octopus Energy Group, said: “It’s a tremendous opportunity to unlock flexibility at an unprecedented scale, and we can’t wait to get started.”

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