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Flexible use of the grid could slash £12 billion in energy bills per year by 2050

Billions of pounds in household energy savings are at risk due to inefficient use of the grid, a new white paper by smart energy specialist geo and heating manufacturer Vaillant finds.

The white paper, DSR flexibility for domestic heat pumps, examines how heat pumps and other household appliances and white goods can help run the grid as efficiently as possible.

The paper warns that the lack of a standard language that such devices can use to manage the demand they place on the grid (known as ‘flexibility’) is putting cost and carbon savings at risk. A common language for household electrical devices will enable flexibility, allowing the grid to offer savings to the millions of households currently facing rising energy bills.

Grid flexibility

Electrifying heat and transport for the home will lead to the grid becoming overloaded if just 10-20% of existing households install heat pumps. The potential for overloads will drive expensive upgrades of the grid unless flexibility is implemented to prevent the overloads from occurring.

Enabling heat pumps, electric vehicle (EV) chargers and household appliances to operate more flexibly would allow them to match their demand to the existing capacity available on the grid, smoothing load throughout the day and avoiding peak overloads. Flexibility will also drive direct cost and carbon savings for consumers by automatically charging EVs and running household appliances off-peak when renewable, low-carbon electricity is the cheapest and most abundant. Turning down demand is known as demand-side response (DSR). This approach provides further support for the rapid up-take of heating and transport electrification without the need for expensive grid reinforcement.

Standardised grid language

If this flexible energy system of the future is to become a reality, then there needs to be an agreed set of standards to allow the effective operation of heat pumps, EV chargers (and vehicle to grid), solar PV, battery storage and white goods. A lack of common standards will create complexity, increase costs and ultimately cost consumers billions of pounds in lost savings.

The white paper calls for a consortium of stakeholders including DNOs, energy retailers, DSR service providers, Customer Energy Manager (CEM) and energy smart appliance (ESA) Manufacturers to be formed to develop mass-market solutions capable of adoption in Great Britain and in international markets.

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