Lighthouse Connections Reform

Demand Flexibility Service - Consumers have their say

A new evaluation commissioned by the ESO explores the reasons that consumer households participated in the Demand Flexibility Service in such numbers.

  • 1.6million households and businesses participated in the 2022/23 Demand Flexibility Service, as consumers and businesses did their part to reduce demand at key times.
  • A new evaluation commissioned by the ESO explores the reasons that consumer households participated in the Demand Flexibility Service in such numbers.
  • The independent report analyses;
    • 136 diaries completed by active Demand Flexibility Service participants in the last month of the scheme 
    • 1,700 responses to an opinion poll from a representative sample of the GB population
    • 23,717 responses to an online evaluation survey

The Demand Flexibility Service is the largest demand response scheme to have taken place on Great Britain’s electricity network to date. The service ran from November 2022 - March 2023, with 20 test events and two live events taking place. 1.6 million households and businesses participated, delivering in total 3,300MWh of electricity reduction. 

New research about household engagement with the Demand Flexibility Service, undertaken by the Centre for Sustainable Energy on behalf of ESO, explores consumer awareness and motivations for participating. The evaluation sought to understand which groups were able to participate in the Demand Flexibility Service, how households responded and the benefits and challenges they experienced, as well as the longer-term outcomes from the first year of this service. 

Evidence suggests that overall, the consumer experience of the Demand Flexibility Service was positive. 62% of respondents were satisfied with their experience and 83% would participate again. 

The research finds that almost 4 in 10 (38%) opinion poll respondents had heard of the Demand Flexibility Service, and of these, half (51%) were participating. Most (85%) heard about the Demand Flexibility Service through their provider.

Overall, financial rewards of the scheme were more important to those finding things financially difficult, while being interested in innovation and motivated by the challenge were more important for those who are financially comfortable.​

Reducing energy bills was cited by respondents as the main motivation for signing up to the Demand Flexibility Service. This was chosen by 65% of households who were ‘finding it quite or very difficult’, and 43% of those ‘comfortable or doing alright’. Earning rewards was more important for those finding it difficult (30%) compared to those who are comfortable (22%). 27% of those who are comfortable said they were motivated by the challenge, compared to 21% of those finding it difficult. 

Qualitative data from diaries about household responses were analysed to understand different approaches in shifting demand. The most common shifting strategies were reducing usage during events (38.7% of responses) and planning usage around events (38.3%). 

Survey respondents most commonly cited satisfaction from managing the challenge (42%), rewards earned (39%), and being part of a national collective effort (38%) as the main benefits they experienced from participating in the Demand Flexibility Service.

The report also features a set of recommendations for future iterations of the Demand Flexibility Service, from improved advice for households through to widening the public debate about energy system flexibility and demand shifting. 

The ESO intends to use the Demand Flexibility Service across the upcoming 2023/2024 winter and is currently conducting a formal consultation process to determine the final terms of this years’ service. Further announcements will be made following this process.

Claire Dykta, ESO head of markets, said:

“Last winter’s Demand Flexibility Scheme was a first of its kind for Great Britain, with millions of consumers and businesses actively participating in demand-side energy system flexibility at scale. 

“The independent research released today is an important tool for the ESO and industry partners as we look ahead to this coming winter’s scheme and beyond. Alongside the formal consultation process and wide-ranging engagement already underway, this analysis will support us in leveraging the success and lessons learned of last year’s scheme.”