Historically, the scale of peak power reduction following the clock change has been around 10%. However, current forecasts show an expected 13% drop in average demand for the week following the change. This would be the largest demand reduction in more than five years.
The advent of demand management and significant developments in energy efficiency and IoT controls have made the UK consumer more proactive when it comes to when and how they use electricity.
Average electricity demand in the week before the clock change has fallen each year for five years from 2012 to 2017. A total of 7.5GW was cut from the grid during that time – the equivalent electricity of more than two new Hinkley Point power stations!
What makes this year different?
March 2018 has seen an anomaly in the form of ‘The Beast from the East’, which has brought two different spells of unseasonably cold temperatures to the UK. This has lifted demand higher than expected. As a result of additional heating requirements, power consumption has been higher this week than in previous years. The late cold snap has also had an impact on the annual Triad season. The highest power demand for the winter was recorded at over 50GW at the start of March, outside of the Triad season. A second cold snap which developed last weekend saw temperatures fall again. Power demand peaked at 49GW on Monday.
With temperatures forecast to turn milder this week, and the clock change at the weekend, peak consumption is forecast at just 41GW for next Monday – a fall of 8GW in just seven days.
Day-ahead power prices had reached £70/MWh last week amid concerns over higher demand. The contract has already dropped nearly £20/MWh. With a further strong decline in demand forecast, prices could fall further still next week.
Current estimates for average peak demand next week are around 39GW, a decrease of more than 13% on current levels. Historically, the scale of reduction was around 10% (or 4-5GW). However, in recent years as energy efficiency advances further and overall energy consumption drops, the percentage decrease has been stronger. Last year peak demand dropped nearly 12% in the week following the clock change, with consumption averaging just 37GW.
The UK clock change reduction has been consistent in each of the last five years, alongside a wider trend of reduced overall consumption. While the seasonal demand shift for this year is expected to be even more marked, the signs of energy efficiency and demand management are clear, helping to reduce overall demand levels year-on-year.
The return of solar
The brighter weather conditions will also see a sharp rise in solar availability. During the winter season, solar output has averaged less than 500GWh a month. Last summer saw monthly output of around 1,500GWh, with a daily peak of over 9GW in May.
However, the late cold snap and snowy weather conditions in the UK this month have seen a reduction in solar output since February. Solar output so far in March has totalled just 400GWh. This is less than half of the solar generated during March 2017.
Brighter weather conditions and milder temperatures from April will increase the opportunities for solar generation. The longer days will also increase the length of time solar generation is available during each 24 hour period. Higher solar availability raises the levels of on-site generation. Domestic households and businesses are able to generate their own power supply via solar panels installed on-site. This then reduces pressure on the nationwide electricity system at transmission level to supply those meters, further reducing overall system demand.
It’s worth remembering that the reverse effect will of course occur in October when the clocks go back. Darker evenings heading into the winter season are expected to result in a subsequent increase in peak demand. The increase in consumption will be dependent on a range of factors including weather conditions, wind speeds and the extent of consumer controls and energy efficiency.
React to changes in real-time
How can you best react to changing demand patterns and sources of generation? How can you ensure time-consuming but critical processes affected by the clock change are carried out efficiently?
With IoT-enabled controls, your business can access all the key information about your sites on a single screen, allowing you to make instantaneous changes to multiple sites at the touch of a button.
One of our multi-site clients previously spent three weeks making adjustments ahead of the clock changes. This involved engineers attending each site and changing multiple systems. With our system we could make the same changes in a matter of seconds.
Our solution is delivered in partnership with technology giants Dell EMC and Vodafone IoT. Together we’re transforming the way organisations use energy and run their sites with the next generation of IoT controls, creating intelligent buildings and smarter businesses.
To find out more about Utilitywise IoT controls call us on 01527 511 757 or download our brochure.