Our work with industrial and commercial (I&C) and distributed generation (DG) customers has far reaching implications and we have taken real value from the learning. Northern Powergrid can now progress with extracting these benefits to defer or even avoid the need for future network reinforcement under certain conditions.

We have seen that I&C demand side response is fit for adding to business as usual practices today, although we recognise that as an industry we will need to place greater focus on the way we interact with I&C customers and work harder to engage with them to understand and realise the benefits of demand side response services. We have passed important data through to the industry on the contribution of generation to system security, however, more thinking is required on how DNOs can benefit from generation operating in different ways to provide network support.

Our I&C trials focused on four key areas: static demand side response, on-demand demand side response, generator voltage support and generator contribution to network security.

We learned that I&C DSR may be a viable option to address predicted network constraints and should always be considered – it can provide significant benefits to network operators and their customers and there are no major regulatory barriers to its implementation right now, should the need arise. As a result, Northern Powergrid’s attention is now switching from trials to process implementation, using DSR as a post-fault response to increase the capacity of major substations whilst maintaining security of supply. This could allow the deferral of reinforcement and create time to evaluate options and take advantage of changing local conditions that may alleviate an emerging constraint.

Better engagement with I&C customers is needed to improve their awareness and understanding of the benefits of DSR. This will require improved customer knowledge, the development of relationships with large customers and customers with multiple sites and the development of sharing arrangements with other users of DSR resources.

We found that Distribution Use of Signal (DUoS) price signals for half-hourly metered customers did not have an immediately noticeable effect on electricity usage during peak load periods. This could be due to the visibility of these underlying signals in the overall electricity charges from the supplier – we found only 5% of business customers had DUoS price signals passed on in their bills.

We saw that operating generation in voltage control mode on a DNO network could manage voltage effectively through controlling reactive power – potentially reducing occurrences of generation being constrained off.

We found that electrical energy storage is an effective form of demand side management alongside customer flexibility, and that it provides the greatest support the further down the network it is situated. Our other findings included the discovery that wind farms contribute less to system security than previously thought.

Further Reading on developing a smarter powergrid