Under plans drawn up by National Grid, households will be paid to reduce their electricity usage for the first time Monday between 5 pm-6 pm.
The power network operator plans to ask consumers to use less electricity as the UK’s temperatures are expected to drop to -2C today, increasing pressure on Britain’s supply.
A total of around a million people have signed up for the scheme. They will be paid up to £10 per day to reduce the amount of electricity that they use at specific times. This is part of an effort to address the energy crisis.
This could be as simple as not using the dishwasher or washing machine during that hour or waiting until night to charge your electric car.
Although the scheme was previously tested, proposals to use it during high-demand periods have never been made. According to energy sources, agreements were made with suppliers in connection to the plans that could not be cancelled.
The National Grid asked for additional coal-fired power plants in order to provide backup electricity Monday evening if necessary.
National Grid’s Electricity System Operator, (ESO), stated that it would activate the Demand Flexibility Service (DFS), between 5 and 6 p.m. on Monday.
A spokesperson said that electricity supply margins were expected to be smaller than normal Monday evening.
This does not necessarily mean that electricity supplies are in danger. People should not be concerned. These precautionary measures are taken to ensure that we have the spare capacity we need.
National Grid launched the DFS service last winter amid concern about power supplies this winter because of disruptions to gas markets and outages to France’s nuclear fleet.
The British nuclear power plants that are getting old have also been shut down. In the meantime, the electricity from Britain is coming in larger amounts from intermittent sources like the sun and wind, which makes the system more complicated to manage.
These measures are necessary because the Met Office issued a warning about freezing fog Monday. After temperatures dropped below -10C last week in some parts of the UK, a level three cold alert will be in effect for England until Wednesday.
On Monday, temperatures are expected to fall as low as -2C due to very little wind. This means that there will be less electricity from wind power than usual and higher demand from households.
National Grid has conducted several DFS testing this winter but has not yet needed to use the scheme beyond these tests.
It came closest to it on November 28th, when it sent a notice to the market indicating that it might be necessary but eventually decided it wasn’t.
Technically, it is possible that the Monday night call for supply cuts could be delayed. It is believed that National Grid made payments to suppliers on Sunday, making this unlikely.
Sources said that it would be the first-ever live event to demonstrate the demand flexibility scheme.
“Bids have already been accepted by energy suppliers, and prices have been agreed upon and cannot be reneged on.”
“It is secured for and it will not be released for use for the first time.”
The scheme will notify households that have signed up about the possibility of being paid to reduce usage between 5 pm-6 pm Monday (Jan 23). How much will they be paid? They don’t have to opt-in.
The amount households can make will depend on the supplier they use and how much power they normally use. However, some households could make around £10 per session.
Suppliers were paid £3 per kilowatt hour saved during testing. However, they will likely get more money outside of testing. Some suppliers have been reported to have agreed to pay £6 per kilowatt-hour for Monday evening.
They have the option of passing on the entire amount to customers or paying more. British Gas and Octopus Energy are two of the DFS-registered suppliers.
It is available to British households with a second-generation smart meter.
The operator also requested that three coal units owned by Drax or EDF be warmed up and ready for Monday.
As part of the push to eliminate coal, the units were scheduled to close in September 2022. However, last year they were asked to remain online longer than expected in order to supply backup supplies in case of an emergency.
Monday morning, the coal plants were shut down.
EnAppSys director Phil Hewitt said that National Grid seemed to be very cautious, even though margins are expected to be tight.
He said that one reason for precautions could be that “things always fail on Mondays”. Many power stations shut down over weekends and then reopen at the beginning of each week.
According to a government source, “The morning is very good in terms of demand, but we expect it will get higher in the evening.”
“Like before, we keep our coals hot, which is the term for keeping coal-fired stations in reserve. They can be backed up with the demand flexibility program.
“There will be a time when it will be a no-go or go decision, but for now the plan is to use it for the evening.
This is not about blackouts. We can always get more electricity. This is about giving people greater flexibility and the grid more flexibility.
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