UK’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) intends to expand its demand flexibility service (DFS), aiming to integrate it as a standard market feature throughout the year. The initiative is designed to move beyond its initial role as a winter emergency measure.

The DFS was originally introduced during the 2022 energy crisis.

The ESO, which is responsible for managing the nation’s power distribution, has stated that it will consult with industry stakeholders regarding the proposed expansion of the DFS. The final proposal is expected to be submitted to Ofgem, the energy regulator, before the 2024/2025 winter season.

The DFS incentivises households to reduce electricity consumption during peak times, offering financial rewards typically reflected as discounts on their energy bills. Participants are encouraged to turn off high-demand appliances, such as ovens and dishwashers, at designated times to alleviate pressure on the grid.

Despite the ESO’s confidence in the sufficiency of electricity for winter with a more robust capacity margin than previously, the organisation is keen on maintaining the DFS. “DFS will continue to exist, however, and the ESO has today proposed enhancements to the service, so that it can be used across the year as a normal commercial service,” the ESO stated.

ESO chief operating officer Kayte O’Neill emphasises the importance of evolving the DFS, “As we transition away from requiring DFS as a winter contingency service, it is only right that we look to the future of what this service can deliver.”

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While European energy markets have found stability, the ESO recognises the need for demand control mechanisms, especially with the increasing proportion of renewable energy sources.

The DFS, alongside other programmes, encourages both residential and commercial users with smart meters to shift their electricity usage to off-peak times.

In the winter of 2023/2024, approximately 2.6 million participants were compensated for their involvement in the DFS.