Posted on 11th August 2017

A Smart, Flexible Electric Future…But Don’t Forget About Heat

As the latest edition of LABM goes to press, one of several Consultation and Call for Evidence Documents issued by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (“BEIS”) and Ofgem will close: A Smart, Flexible Energy System. This particular Call for Evidence is another step in what will be a long and slow process to ensuring the UK energy system can satisfy and cope with Businesses and Consumers increasing electric demands predicted in the future.

Why issue this Call for Evidence?

BEIS and Ofgem both acknowledge new technology is changing the way that Businesses and Consumers consume energy. The application of information and communication technology is transforming old passive energy networks into an increasingly smart energy system.

With the Government commitment to the Smart Meter rollout, increase in electric vehicles and the need to manage renewable energy sources these, and many other, new demands on the energy system mean that a smart energy system isn’t just advantageous, but essential. The increase in demand on the energy system as a result of new technologies is debated but the last DECC (now BEIS) central forecast showed a 19 per cent rise in the demand for UK electricity between 2015 and 2035. This predicted increase in demand will provide a plethora of problems for the UK energy system e.g. is there sufficient generation to meet this demand? how will the networks cope with this demand? how can we ensure ‘the lights don’t go out’? how do we ensure pricing is appropriate for the future? In short, if action is not taken now then BEIS and Ofgem realise there will be a significant problem in the future.

What evidence is being sought?

The Call for Evidence was looking for views on how Government and Ofgem can create the right environment for Consumers to benefit from a smarter, more flexible energy system at its fullest potential and how the Government came make smart policy and smart regulation to allow a smart energy system to become a reality.

The Call for Evidence asked for views on a range of areas; Enabling energy storage, changes required to network charges for storage, final consumption levies, role of aggregators, providing price signals for flexibility (half hourly/smart tariffs & smart distribution tariffs) and on smart Consumer appliances, low emission vehicles and Demand Side Response appliances.

What technologies are already available to provide a smart energy system?

Many technologies are already available to the Consumer which help control their electric demand in a ‘smart’ way. These technologies range from the basic Smart Meters Government are rolling out to specialist Apps to control fridges, music systems, lighting and heating remotely via WiFi connectivity.

Some technologies are already so advanced they can assist a Consumer with controlling their total electric consumption at any point in time to ensure the Consumer doesn’t operate electric appliances during the most expensive tariff periods or does not draw more power than their home is capable of dealing with. These technologies are being labelled as ‘Demand Side Responsive’ ready.

Smart Demand Side Responsive heating

BEIS also released a separate consultation: Heat in Buildings. Whilst the requirement for a Smart Energy System in the future is being widely discussed, the Government also realise that action is needed to empower households to take control of their heating, now and in the long term. Domestic heating accounts for nearly a third of Consumer energy consumption and, with an ageing population and a tendency for Consumers to heat more rooms in their homes, action is needed to ensure costs for Consumers don’t spiral, drive efficiencies in heating and ensure carbon emissions are met. This consultation is also looking for evidence across many areas; domestic boiler standards, boiler performance, control of space heating; weather compensation, hydraulic balancing, return temperatures and radiator sizing to name a few.

Amongst the technologies already available to Consumers to help control their electric consumption and heat their homes more efficiently and effectively are The Electric Heating Company’s Demand Side Responsive (“DSR”) Electric Combination Radiators.

EHC, with over 10 year’s history of selling German Electric Radiators, has developed the DSR Electric Combination Radiator range to be Wi-Fi ready and have the capability of being controlled via a consumers Computer, Smartphone or Tablet.  The APP has been designed to facilitate today’s busy lifestyle offering anytime/anywhere controllability on time, temperature and programming of the central heating system by either individual radiator or as a group of radiators in each room.

Other facilities available via the APP include:-

Electricity Power Limiter Electricity Monitor Radiator Priority settings

The DSR Electric Combination Radiators also have an “Open Window” feature whereby the Radiator constantly monitors the room temperature. If the Radiator detects a significant temperature drop within a short period of time the radiator will switch off for 30 minutes, saving energy and money. Thereafter, the Radiator will return to its previous settings however it will continue to repeat the process when a drop in temperature is detected.

Available in various sizes including conservatory and vertical styles and with outputs up to 2400 watt, they are supplied with an Installation Kit for wall fixing installations.

What next?

The EHC DSR Electric Combination Radiators are just one of many technologies already available that can help provide a smart energy system for the future and help heat homes more efficiently and effectively. The Government and Ofgem are in ‘listening mode’ and acknowledge they need help and guidance in designing an energy system which is fit for future purpose and ensuring Consumers are empowered to take control of their heating. It is now down to wider industry and Consumers to provide the Government with this advice, help, evidence and support to ensure this opportunity is not missed and the predicted problems do not come to fruition.

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