The National Grid is preparing for the summer months by launching a new energy incentive scheme. It will see companies being paid incentive sums to increase their electricity usage at times when solar and wind power generation exceeds demand.
The summer months bring brighter and longer days, which brings challenges of its own for the National Grid. Rather than dealing with the issues of securing sufficient supply to meet the high demand of winter, it instead faces periods where demand on the grid drops rapidly and there is an excess of power produced by solar and wind.
Recent years have seen a solar installations boom, fuelled by generous subsidies. The solar PV panels feed green energy directly into the buildings that host them or to the local grid. This acts to cut demand whilst adding to supply, and this year is expected to see a record low for electricity demand over the summer as a result.
The new 'demand turn-up scheme' has seen six businesses be selected via an auction process who will be able to increase their power usage when the system is experiencing an excess of supply. This will save consumers over half a million pounds this summer.
The chosen companies have operations which naturally need large amounts of energy, but this can be ramped up and down easily without affecting their operation. They can opt for afternoon or night-time windows of extra energy.
Without the scheme, the National Grid says that the country's electricity system would need to deal with an electricity excess of 3GW to 5GW. This equates to the production of nearly two nuclear power plants or several traditional gas-fired plants.
The innovative demand management scheme is a new approach for the National Grid and will be carefully reviewed.