Festival generator demand response scheme flops

A scheme to ease power network pressure points using back-up generators during winter demand peaks flopped for commercial reasons, it emerged on Wednesday.

Western Power Distribution (WPD) had the idea of taking mobile generators used for festivals and pop concerts in summer to reduce strain on overloaded substations in winter.

WPD did not offer to rent the generators but estimated the owners could make profits of £37,000/MW from taking advantage of various payments available for grid balancing services.

However the trial, backed by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network Fund (LCNF), was officially abandoned in August due to a shortage of ancillary equipment, capital costs and vandalism fears.

Sharing the experience at the Energy Networks Association’s LCNF conference in Brighton, Sanna Atherton of WPD admitted the Seasonal Generation Deployment concept turned out to be “technically feasible but not commercially”.

It has been succeeded by Project Falcon, as part of which customers can earn £300/MWh for reducing their load on the network, either by cutting demand or turning on a back-up generator, for up to two hours at a time. They do not get a payment for being available.

Paying for demand response is expected to save the distribution network operator money compared to investing in traditional network reinforcement.

Meanwhile, SSE Power Distribution is trying household demand response as a way of allowing more renewable generation access to the grid on Shetland.

The company plans to install 1,000 smart storage heaters in homes that can be remotely controlled to synchronise demand with high wind power output, easing constraints on the network. Some 150 housing association properties have been fitted with the technology so far.