Integrating wind power into the UK energy mix through dynamic demand-side response

Mr Matthew  Gross, University of Sussex, United Kingdom

In the majority of residential demand-side response (DSR) programmes that have taken place internationally, the principal motivation for participation has been the chance to save money on electricity bills. However, on most programmes where consumers can benefit from cheaper electricity, they risk paying more if they consume a lot of their electricity at peak times. As a consequence, consumers who are more risk averse appear less willing to participate in DSR programmes (Fell et al. 2015).

However, while some consumers might not be prepared to engage in price-based DSR, studies have shown that other motivations – such as helping to reduce the likelihood of power cuts or lowering environmental emissions – can incentivise consumers to participate (Gyamfi & Krumdieck 2011). At the same time, as the proportion of renewable energy in the system mix grows, the importance of residential DSR to help to balance supply and demand is likely to increase (Alizadeh et al. 2016; Ward et al. 2014)

This paper describes a residential DSR trial that took place in the UK from May 2015 to September 2015. It examines the response of residential consumers to notifications requesting that they alter electricity consumption according to the amount of electricity being generated from wind. The study is relevant to the conference themes of ‘changing roles for consumers’ and ‘integrating supply and demand: smart systems; storage’, since it examines how consumers can play an active role in helping to balance the available supply of renewable energy with demand from the residential sector.

Forty six households in Southern England took part in the trial. During the trial, these households were sent notifications requesting that they either increase electricity consumption (‘turn up’ events) or reduce electricity consumption (‘turn down’ events) depending on how much electricity was being generated by wind farms across the UK. Electricity consumption was monitored throughout the trial and consumption during ‘events’ was compared with a reference load which was established for each of the households. The response from the households during events was then tested for statistical significance.

The study found that, on average, trial households reduced their electricity consumption by 7.8% during ‘turn down’ events and increased their electricity consumption by 4.5% during ‘turn up’ events. The implications of these results for efforts to balance the availability of renewable energy with energy demand are discussed, together with findings from a set of 23 interviews with trial participants which were used to learn about factors that constrained or enabled them to engage in DSR.

Keyword set: demand-side response, load shifting, behaviour change, renewable energy, persuasive technology


Alizadeh, M.I. et al., 2016. Flexibility in future power systems with high renewable penetration: A review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 57, pp.1186–1193. Available at:

Fell, M.J. et al., 2015. Public acceptability of domestic demand-side response in Great Britain: The role of automation and direct load control. Energy Research and Social Science, 9, pp.72–84. Available at:

Gyamfi, S. & Krumdieck, S., 2011. Price, environment and security: Exploring multi-modal motivation in voluntary residential peak demand response. Energy Policy, 39(5), pp.2993–3004. Available at:

Ward, J. et al., 2014. Paper 12 The household electricity demand-side & participation in the GB electricity markets. Sustainability First GB Electricity Demand Project – realising the resource.

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