The National Grid operates the transmission of electricity across the country. In order for power to be provided 24/7, the National Grid must balance supply with demand. Maintaining such a balance is becoming increasingly difficult with the advent of more intermittent sources of renewable energy and phasing out of fossil power stations. In the summer of 2017, for the first time the UK was able to meet more than 50% of our mid-day electricity demand from renewable energy sources.
This is great for the environment and for energy security, but not so good for the National Grid because on sunny and windy days so much electricity is now produced that it can put the grid under strain. When this occurs, turbines and large PV farms are switched off just when they are generating the most.
Then, at peak times, the electricity grid runs dangerously short of capacity. In order to meet demand, it turns on all its oldest, dirtiest, most expensive power stations. We’ve found a cheaper and greener way, by paying people not to use electricity at peak times. Now we’re busy making it happen.
The aim of the trial is to demonstrate the potential for individual households to provide a balancing service to the electricity grid by offering storage technologies that can be turned on or off when the grid needs to offload excess electricity or needs more on the lines. In addition, we hope to provide improved energy efficiency in the home, demonstrate a new method to reduce CO2 emissions, develop new business cases and encourage the use of increasing levels of renewable energy through improved energy usage.
Through the aggregation of domestic storage devices, the Pete Project aims to offer that 1MW of capacity to the National Grid. When there is too much power, the batteries and hot water tanks will charge/heat; when there is too little, the batteries can provide power to the grid and the tanks will stop heating.
We hope the Pete Project will pave the way for a cleaner, fairer energy system, where households can directly benefit from helping to reduce the strain on the grid.