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Let’s Talk About Flex: now is the time to live net zero at home

29 April 2020

Given the recent shift to homeworking, how we manage our energy use at home has never been more important.

Through building supportive policy and regulatory frameworks, domestic demand side response (DSR) will play a leading role in the shift to a net zero system by 2050, says the ADE in a new report titled: “Let’s talk about Flex: Unlocking domestic energy flexibility”. The report, launched today at the ADE’s virtual Smart Energy Conference, explores the barriers to commercialisation of domestic DSR and lays out clear pathways to overcome each of these.

Rick Parfett, Policy Manager at the ADE and the report’s lead author, said:

The current pandemic has shown that the energy sector is incredibly adaptable in responding to rapidly changing demand patterns. As we begin to think about how the crisis might alter the ways in which we live and work in the long term, this is the perfect opportunity to consider how best to scale up the contribution of domestic DSR.

Flexibility is vital in order to integrate the huge increases in renewable energy needed to achieve a net zero energy system. High levels of consumer engagement and support will be crucial in delivering this vision and it is domestic DSR which allows consumers to take control of their energy usage, save money and lead the transition to a low-carbon society. If policy makers tackle the barriers set out in this report, the UK will be considerably closer to putting in place the smart, flexible, low carbon energy system of the future.

As the UK moves away from a centralised energy system reliant upon fossil fuels, innovative technologies that enable greater flexibility and allow the system to more easily respond to changing demand patterns will become increasingly important. The importance of this feature has been bought to light in the pandemic, as we have seen an overall rise in domestic energy demand, while industrial and commercial demand has fallen.

The report emphasises that domestic flexibility is on the verge of widespread rollout, after years of trial projects and research. Industrial demand side response already plays a major role in facilitating the transition to a low-carbon energy system. With minor regulatory changes, households will be able to do the same, receiving payments for helping the system to be more flexible. For this vision to be achieved, policymakers should remove any barriers to flexibility accessing different markets and should ensure that services are designed to be open to the widest possible range of providers. Given the relatively small energy use of an individual household, it is essential that this usage can be aggregated together in an easy, low-cost way.

Caroline Bragg, Head of Policy at the ADE said:

The ADE recognises the importance of decentralised energy technologies at all scales, from industrial right down to domestic. However, more progress needs to be made in empowering individual energy users to make informed decisions about how to engage with the system.

This report makes it clear that the solutions that will speed up and improve the roll out of domestic DSR technologies are very much within reach. The ADE is ready and willing to work with government, industry and regulatory stakeholders to make the changes required.

The report was produced in consultation with ADE members, representing over 160 businesses operating in the energy markets for flexibility, power, efficiency and heat.

Read the full report here.

Notes to Editors

About the ADE

The Association for Decentralised Energy is setting the vision of a local, efficient, low carbon energy system which enables energy users to make the choices which work for them.

The Association has more than 160 members active across a range of technologies and markets and is widely recognised as one of the leading industry bodies in the sustainable energy sector.


ADE Staff Available for Interview:

Caroline Bragg, Head of Policy: Caroline leads the development of the ADE’s policy and regulatory work – working closely with members and policymakers to promote the sustainable development and decarbonisation of the decentralised energy sector in the UK. Caroline works across the Association’s key policy areas- heat networks, CHP generation, energy efficiency and grid flexibility – influencing key policy and regulatory developments in each.

Rick Parfett, Policy Manager: Rick leads the ADE’s policy and regulatory work in system flexibility and demand side response. He focusses primarily on working with relevant stakeholders to further open up energy markets and enable greater penetration of DSR and storage solutions. As we move away from a centralised, fossil fuel-based system, allowing these innovative business models and disruptive technologies flourish will be key to achieving a flexible, decarbonised system.


For further information please contact:

Amy Ritchie

External Affairs Officer

Association for Decentralised Energy

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