CrowdFlex wins OFGEM funding for domestic flexibility

National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) have been awarded a second grant from Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) as part of a wider project that looks to understand how domestic flexibility can be used to help manage the grid. 

The CrowdFlex project is exploring consumer behaviour in order to understand how domestic flexibility can support the coordination of energy consumption, generation and grid management and will now move into the second, Alpha, phase of delivery. 

A successful discovery phase, completed in early 2022, established that the energy industry would like to see domestic flexibility resources play an active role in energy markets and services. Such resources have the potential to greatly reduce system operation costs while minimising the need for additional capacity and network reinforcement (thereby reducing costs for the end consumer).  

Following funding confirmation for the Alpha phase, the team will look to develop: 

  • understanding of system needs, and how these align with consumer needs and the utilisation of domestic assets
  • plans for testing flexibility services in a real-world trial, including stacking multiple services 
  • greater clarity around data needs and statistical modelling approaches for forecasting flexibility  
  • better understanding of potential regulatory barriers
  • a plan to successfully engage with consumers, incentivise them to change their behaviour and ensure the trial can deliver the expected commercial and CO2 reduction benefits

The funding announcement is an exciting next step to realising the role of domestic flexibility in the transition to net zero emissions,” said Nina Klein, Innovation Manager at National Grid ESO. 

In the next phase we will gain a better understanding of the system challenges like peak demand, constraints and the potential balancing solutions which distributed domestic assets could provide. The benefits of using domestic flexibility can be passed on to all electricity consumers, potentially saving billions in costs alongside reducing carbon emissions.

In addition to supporting the path to net zero emissions, CrowdFlex will be a critical vehicle for delivering economic impact through flexibility incentives, including time-of-use tariffs. These tariffs offer consumers cheaper electricity prices when demand is low or generation is high. Through the UK’s largest ever domestic flexibility study, CrowdFlex found that time-of-use tariffs can help customers reduce their evening peak demand by up to 23%. 

The CrowdFlex project’s flexibility modelling is also contributing to an ambitious industry-wide mission launched by National Grid ESO in 2021 to digitise the GB energy system. The Virtual Energy System will be a digital twin of the physical energy system, working in parallel to enable an open, unified, real-time view of every part of the GB energy system.  

 Developed and owned by and for the industry, this virtual environment will be a shared, digital national asset - generating insights, new ideas and the ability to model solutions to cut real-world carbon emissions, support the transition to net zero, and deliver long-term value to industry and consumers.  

The CrowdFlex project is being delivered by a consortium from across the energy sector; partners include Centre for Net Zero, Element Energy, Octopus Energy, Ohme Technology, Scottish and Southern Energy Networks and Western Power Distribution.

National Grid ESO and partners will also be continuing the Common Framework project which aims to understand what standards should be set out with participants to facilitate collaboration and compatibility between digital twins within the Virtual Energy System. 

To find out more about CrowdFlex visit the project website and to find out more about the Virtual energy system visit our website