Model demonstrating the CLNR technology trials

Network management trial presents initial results

Peak-time electricity consumption has been cut substantially among households taking part in a trial of time-of-use tariffs.

Stavros Sachinis of British Gas presented these results at a knowledge-sharing event for the Customer-Led Network Revolution programme.

CLNR is the UK’s largest smart-grid initiative and comprises 22 customer and technology trials involving domestic and business customers across north-east England and Yorkshire. It is led by Northern Powergrid with £27m of support from Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network Fund.

The customers in the ToU trial all had smart meters with home displays. The tariff had three bands – day, peak (4-8pm weekday) and night/weekend – and was designed to match existing electricity charges if usage was unchanged, so it was not punitive but would reward shifting consumption away from the peak.

Sachinis said on average ToU customers consumed 3 per cent less than a control group with smart meters, and peak consumption was 10 per cent lower – an effect that persisted over time and was more pronounced in winter. What is more, 95 per cent of participants said they would choose a multi-rate tariff in future.

CLNR reached its recruitment target for the various trials in September. Dr Liz Sidebotham, the programme’s communications manager, said: “A lot of hard work from the project partners at Northern Powergrid, British Gas, EA Technology and Durham University has enabled us to reach this point. We’ve faced a number of challenges along the way, but we’ve overcome them by working together

“With the recruitment process now complete and all of the low-carbon technology installations finalised, we’re now monitoring over 12,000 different customers with different energy needs to work out how and when they use, or in some cases generate, electricity.”

The trials are important because the increasing uptake of solar panels and future growth in the use of electric cars and heat pumps will put new demands on the electricity network.

Dr Sidebotham explained that clustering effects are already emerging as social landlords install PV panels or heat pumps in groups of properties all served by the same substation.

The CLNR technology trials include installing enhanced automatic voltage controllers in substations and installing large battery systems that could, for example, store surplus electricity generated from solar panels in the middle of the day and release it during the evening peak.

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