Combined Heat & Power, District Heating & Cooling, Demand Side Services

Let’s talk about Flex: Unlocking domestic energy flexibility

Published on 29 April 2020

Through building supportive policy and regulatory frameworks, domestic demand side response (DSR) will play a leading role in the shift to a net zero system by 2050.

Let’s talk about Flex: Unlocking domestic energy flexibility | ADE publications

As the UK moves away from a centralised energy system reliant upon fossil fuels, innovative technologies that enable greater flexibility and allow the system to more easily respond to changing demand patterns will become increasingly important. This report, launched on 29 April 2020 the ADE’s Smart Energy Conference, explores the barriers to commercialisation of domestic DSR and lays out clear pathways to overcome each of these. 

Flexibility is vital in order to integrate the huge increases in renewable energy needed to achieve a net zero energy system. High levels of consumer engagement and support will be crucial in delivering this vision and it is domestic DSR which allows consumers to take control of their energy usage, save money and lead the transition to a low-carbon society.

The report emphasises that domestic flexibility is on the verge of widespread rollout, after years of trial projects and research. Industrial demand side response already plays a major role in facilitating the transition to a low-carbon energy system; with minor regulatory changes, households will be able to do the same, receiving payments for helping the system to be more flexible.

For this vision to be achieved, policymakers should remove any barriers to flexibility accessing different markets and should ensure that services are designed to be open to the widest possible range of providers. Given the relatively small energy use of an individual household, it is essential that this usage can be aggregated together in an easy, low-cost way. The report emphasises the importance of valuing and incentivising flexibility more explicitly across policy areas – Building Regulations, for example, should ensure that buildings are not only energy efficient but highly flexible. It also highlights that policymakers should take care not to introduce requirements that close off the possibility of different business models prematurely, such as mandating the use of smart meters as the only means of service provision.

"Let's talk about flex: Unlocking domestic energy flexibility" was written in consultation with ADE members and furthers the ADE's vision of a low carbon, flexible energy system with the user at the centre.

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