SSE helps deliver breakthrough in demand side response technology

Data has been transmitted across a national electricity grid for the first time, in what could be a significant step towards lowering the cost of demand side response technologies through the creation of ‘virtual power plants.’

The new technology trialled could allow thousands of homes and businesses to combine to manage more electricity smartly, leading to lower energy bills for consumers through small variations in the energy consumption of their appliances, such as water heaters or freezers.

The flexibility provided by thousands of appliances combined could reduce peaks in energy use and reduce the need for traditional forms of electricity generation.

SSE has helped Reactive Technologies to test the new technology in conjunction with National Grid. SSE set up five electrical devices (truck-sized transmitters) across the UK to receive the messages, and then installed 28 receiver devices in other places, connected only via the National Grid. During the trial messages were sent out and received successfully.

Phil Brown, SSE Change Implementation Manager, said: “This is a breakthrough moment for the concept of demand side response technologies which could create a cheaper and cleaner energy system. It’s a fantastic innovation and SSE is proud to have played a role in helping the technology come to fruition.

“The project successfully demonstrated connectivity and load control ability using only signals transmitted through the transmission and the distribution network.

“One day even the smallest domestic consumer could participate in Demand Side Management and therefore both help balance grid and local networks and realise a financial benefit from otherwise cost-only devices. Business customers will be able to realise these benefits much sooner as initially focus will be on larger loads to deliver immediate results.”