New data showing the consumption and generation patterns of more than 12,000 UK electricity consumers has been published by a leading smart grid project — the Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR).
Domestic and business customers were monitored over a two-year period to produce industry-leading research into current, emerging and possible future electricity load and generation patterns.
Thousands of the customers taking part in the project had smart meters, which provide accurate information on electricity demand and generation activity every 30 minutes.
Many of the customers monitored had solar panels, heat pumps and electric vehicle charging points, providing important new data on the impact of these new low-carbon loads on local electricity networks.
The CLNR project is also investigating whether customers can be more flexible with when and how they use energy, scheduling routine household tasks like laundry and cooking outside the 4-8 p.m. period of peak demand for electricity, for example. If customers are willing to be flexible, it could provide a cost-effective way to manage future energy challenges.
Preston Foster from Northern Powergrid, the electricity distribution network operator leading the project, said: "These latest results from the CLNR project provide a comprehensive suite of up-to-date data relating to different electricity customer profiles in the UK.
"The emergence of new low-carbon loads has required network operators to re-evaluate the design and operation of our networks to ensure we can continue to provide a safe and secure supply of electricity," he said.
The CLNR has also actively trialed new commercial arrangements and interventions with domestic and small business customers. The new data includes results from the project's time of use tariff trials, where customers were incentivized to use electricity outside of the 4-8 p.m. peak and automated schemes with solar PV owners.
The learning from these trials, together with qualitative research conducted by the University of Durham, is helping uncover the extent to which customers will accept new propositions for flexibility, including restricted hours tariffs to direct control.
The CLNR project, which is part-funded by Ofgem's Low Carbon Networks (LCN) Fund, aims to understand how the use of low carbon technologies, such as solar panels, electric vehicles and heat pumps, impact on the current electricity grid network.
The project is trialing innovative smart grid technologies on the Northern Powergrid electricity distribution network and working with thousands of customers, many of whom have homes and businesses equipped with smart meters and in-home energy monitors and low carbon technologies like solar PV, heat pumps and electric vehicle charging points.
Findings from the project will provide guidance on how to meet the UK's future energy needs via the deployment of smart grid technologies and help the industry ensure the UK's electricity networks are prepared for the mass introduction of these low carbon technologies. The knowledge, tools and recommendations generated will be made readily available to promote understanding across the energy industry as a whole.