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Demand response beyond the numbers: A critical reappraisal of flexibility in two United Kingdom field trials

Crawley, J; Johnson, C; Calver, P; Fell, M; (2021) Demand response beyond the numbers: A critical reappraisal of flexibility in two United Kingdom field trials. Energy Research & Social Science , 75 , Article 102032. 10.1016/j.erss.2021.102032. Green open access

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Abstract

Domestic demand response – specifically, changing household electricity usage patterns in response to signals – is an increasingly important part of electricity system decarbonisation. Many forms of demand response exist and there is a live question of the most appropriate and fair way to design it, especially regarding which types of household can participate and how. Using secondary qualitative analysis of published trial documentation, this paper compares two UK based trials in low income households whose headline results – kW peak reduction - differed by two orders of magnitude. Using a framework based on flexibility capital, the contextual factors underlying these different peak reductions are examined, and these headline results are balanced against other outcomes of the trials. The analysis examines the technical and social sources of flexibility capital in each trial, who controlled this capital, and for whom it delivered value. This highlights questions to consider when designing demand response, such as to what extent participants should be expected to understand and actively participate, who should control their energy use and the spread of responsibility and liability across facilitating parties. We argue that critical reappraisals of existing evidence are necessary as the terms for consumer participation in the future energy system are being established. There exist important aspects and consequences of demand response that are overlooked if schemes focus solely on how many Watts can be shifted. This is crucial as governments, the private sector and a growing number of other parties test and implement different demand response strategies.

Type: Article
Title: Demand response beyond the numbers: A critical reappraisal of flexibility in two United Kingdom field trials
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.erss.2021.102032
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2021.102032
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Demand response, Direct load control, Critical peak rebate, Flexibility capital
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124286
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