Triads and tribulations

Triads and tribulations

How Utilitywise can help take the sting out of Triad costs.

How Utilitywise can help take the sting out of Triad costs.

Are you ready for the Triad challenge? The start of November kicks off one of the most important annual periods for energy demand management, as organisations look to avoid high transmission costs.

Utilitywise will again be at hand to provide the tools needed, with its Triad Alert service enabling organisations to manage the yearly Triad periods. Of those that reacted to the Triad Alert service last winter, demand was cut by nearly 30% compared to standard winter peak-period half-hour consumption and generated significant cost savings. Will you be one of those that rise to the challenge this year?

Understanding Triads

National Grid identifies three Triads each year in order to calculate the Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) charges that an organisation will incur. Triads are the three half-hour periods with the highest demand across the four months from November to February. However, each Triad must be separated by at least 10 days. This means consecutive days of high demand would not yield multiple Triads.

Businesses able to lower their usage during these high demand points will cut their transmission charges. Forecasting the Triads is dependent on a wide range of different factors. Businesses ‘in the know’ are eager to take action and avoid high usage at particular times while minimising disruption to everyday activity.

How Utilitywise can help                        

Each day we issue updates to clients on the potential for a Triad. In the report, we also provide a forward view for the next 14 days and a long-term winter outlook for demand across the season.

Confirmed Triads 2014-15

Triad date Half hour ending Settlement period Demand (MW)
Thursday 4 December 2014 17:30 35 49,655
Monday 19 January 2015 17:30 35 51,276
Monday 2 February 18:00 36 50,859

We’ve been highly successful at predicting the Triads. Last winter (2014/15) Utilitywise successfully predicted all three Triads, issuing clients with a “Red Alert” warning on each of those days. Furthermore, in 2013/14 Utilitywise again warned clients of each Triad, including a previously unheard of Friday Triad, missed by all the major energy suppliers.

Taking a historical look, Triads typically occur between 4pm and 6pm on Monday-Thursday. There have been just two Triads called outside of these time frames since Triads began in 1972.

Of course, calling an alert every weekday during the Triad period would generate a 100% success rate, though this could have a negative impact on businesses. Organisations would incur major damage to revenues if required to turn down production each day for four months ‘just in case’. Having said that, businesses that can take control and avoid high usage on these three occasions – just 0.05% of the four month period – will reap the rewards of lower charges for the entire season.

Utilitywise aims to provide as few alerts as possible while still highlighting all three Triads. As shown in the graph below, the total number of red alerts called by Utilitywise was fewer than many of the suppliers tracked.

Utilitywise - Triad Alerts

By forecasting when Triads will occur, Utilitywise allows clients to take control of their consumption and, if possible, reduce their energy use in order to avoid high Triad related charges.

Businesses can respond simply by reducing demand during that time or by load-shifting. Load-shifting involves moving the most energy intensive tasks of the day to a time when it’s less likely that a Triad will occur i.e. early in the morning. Load-shifting means firms can avoid Triads without reducing their overall daily energy use.

The challenges of Triad prediction

The growing awareness of Triads and the increased use of Triad avoidance tactics are in themselves challenges to predicting when they will occur. If enough businesses respond to signs of a Triad, demand may not rise as much as expected, therefore eliminating the day as a potential Triad. Additionally, there is no guarantee that demand will always drop in reaction to a possible Triad, particularly if there has already been a string of days where a Triad seemed likely. Firms may have become disenfranchised to alerts as a result of lost revenue due to previous reactions and demand may go unchecked.

A general trend towards flatter and lower demand, seen in recent years, is largely attributed to increased energy efficiency. This has made it more difficult to identify Triads. Uncertainty in demand patterns year-on-year is also linked with changing weather conditions. Colder periods are likely to result in higher energy demand. Weather is also a factor in embedded generation and its effect on demand. The UK has a growing capacity of onsite wind and solar generation. Therefore, for example, high wind levels on the day would reduce overall system demand. However, the intermittent nature of wind generation makes its effect on overall electricity demand difficult to predict.

To the future

UK demand will continue to evolve and change. The key to Triad forecasting is acknowledging the variable nature of these factors rather than assuming a fixed effect, or worse no effect.

The Utilitywise Triad model is upgraded and improved each year. The method of applying previous factors, changes and challenges, to the next model has allowed Utilitywise to successfully predict Triads while minimising the disruption to clients’ activity.

Find out more about our Triad Alert service and how it can help your business.


Posted by on Tuesday, the 27. October at 7.24

Utilitywise has been helping businesses manage their business utilities since 2006. With over 40,000 customers across Europe, we help businesses save time, save effort and save money by reducing their energy and water consumption.