February 13, 2013

Households asked to put a wash on when its windy

By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent | 13 February 2013 | The Telegraph | www.telegraph.co.uk

In the old days we would put a wash on when it is windy outside so clothes dry, but in the future we could be washing when it is windy because electricity bills are lower.

EDF Energy has teamed up with Imperial College London to trial the new idea known as “day ahead electricity alerts”.

The year-long trial aims to find out whether people are prepared to do their washing, tumble drying, and other electricity intensive tasks on windy days or at off peak times when green power is cheap and plentiful.

The 1,000 customers taking part, who already have smart meters, will be told by text message or an alert on their smart meter display when they can expect electricity prices to be cheaper.

The results will be published next year, and if the trials are successful, they could pave the way for utilities to introduce new tariffs that encourage customers to make use of electricity at times when energy is at its cheapest or demand is at lowest.

The research will show if energy companies can help customers save money on their bills.

The Energy Saving Trust estimate that customers can save £250 on their energy bill by using appliances differently.

It will also show if customers can help energy companies to balance the grid and cut carbon by using more renewable energy when it is plentiful, and therefore saving on gas and oil that has to be in place as a backup on still days.

Goran Strbac, Professor of Electrical and Electronic Energy Systems at Imperial, said overall it could save the whole country money and carbon by using electricity more efficiently.

“It is crucial that we understand the role that residential consumers can play in the development of smarter electricity systems that will facilitate cost-effective evolution to a low carbon future.”

Liam O’Sullivan, of UK Power Networks, said the “wind-twinning” approach could help balance the National Grid as Britain starts to rely more on wind energy,” he said.

“This ground-breaking research will test whether day-ahead pricing can influence demand, manage the network more efficiently and encourage greater use of low carbon electricity.

“This is the first time such research has been undertaken in Britain. We want to see whether people can move their demand patterns away from peak times to support the most efficient, low carbon operation of the infrastructure which brings power to their door.”

The Department for Energy and Climate Change are hoping to increase the amount of wind from around 10 per cent of electricity demand at peak today to up to a third.

The UK has to generate a third of electricity from renewables by 2020 to meet EU targets,

John Constable, Direct of think tank Renewable Energy Foundation, said building wind turbines has already added money to people’s bills.

He said putting your washing in on a windy day will not make up for that cost.

He said it was too late to balance the grid, meaning electricity is frequently wasted because there is too much generated by wind at times of low demand.

“This sort of research should have started years ago, before the wind policies got under way, and, though interesting, the announcement is a clear case of too little too late. National Grid is already constraining Scottish wind farms off the system at significant cost to the consumer, and the market data shows that Grid is bracing itself to constrain large offshore wind farms in English waters, such as the London Array, Greater Gabbard, and Thanet, to protect the system in the near future. This will be expensive.”

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/02/13/households-asked-to-put-a-wash-on-when-its-windy/