Grid asks factories to use less energy next winter under blackout prevention plan


A farmer works in a field surrounded by electricity pylons - REUTERS/Darren Staples/File Photo

A farmer works in a field surrounded by electricity pylons – REUTERS/Darren Staples/File Photo

The National Grid will ask factories and businesses to voluntarily cut their electricity usage this winter under an expansion of a service previously pioneered by households.

In a bid to help keep Britain’s lights on, the Grid has confirmed it will urge heavy industry to sign up to the so-called demand flexibility service this coming winter.

Businesses that sign up would be asked to reduce their consumption at times when supplies are expected to be stretched, helping to ease pressure on the system.

While they may use the same amount of energy overall, shifting their usage outside of peak times can help the Grid to manage and prevent blackouts in worst-case scenarios.

Households are also being asked to take part in the demand flexibility service again, which was first introduced last year.

Jake Rigg, director of corporate affairs at National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), told the Telegraph: “We are particularly keen to engage industrial and commercial users of energy.

“The demand flexibility service was principally – not exclusively, but principally – used by households last winter.

“And whilst we still very much want that to continue, we’re really pushing to get industrial and commercial users.

“We’ll be working really closely with different industries to try and help them with that and make it as attractive as possible, particularly for businesses that obviously are struggling with energy costs as well – it could be quite helpful from that point of view.”

Under the flexibility system – trialled for the first time last winter – households receive payments of up to £10 a day to cut the amount of electricity they use at certain times.

This helps the Grid manage the power network at times of stress.

In total, about 1.6 million households and businesses signed up to participate in the demand flexibility service last winter. However, sign-ups were predominantly among households.

Mr Rigg said businesses are being asked to take part in a consultation on the new scheme which closes on July 17.

The demand flexibility service was used 22 times last winter, but only two of these were “live” events.

The Grid said the service helped to save more than 3,300 megawatt hours of electricity in total, roughly what it takes to power 9.9 million households at peak times for an hour.

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