What is the National Grid and Octopus electricity trial and can I take part?


Households are set to be paid to ration their power usage at peak times under a trial being run by the National Grid, The Telegraph revealed on Tuesday. 

What is happening?

From February 11 to March 31, up to 1.4 million British households will be paid for cutting their electricity consumption at certain times of the day. 

The “domestic reserve scarcity” trial run by National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) and Octopus Energy will see customers given a target for low energy usage during set two-hour periods, such as 9am to 11am, 12pm to 2pm and 4.30pm to 6.30pm. If they can keep their usage below these targets, all of the electricity they use during that period will be provided for free. 

What is the purpose of the trial?

The results of the trial will help the National Grid ESO, which manages Britain’s electricity supply and demand, work out how best to design and run the power system. 

The scheme is an experiment to see how easy it is to incentivise households to change their habits and, by extension, their energy usage. It could pave the way for a broader overhaul of the UK’s energy system as part of the transition to greener forms of energy. 

As we cut down on our use of fossil fuels to generate electricity, officials want to reduce pressure on the grid and limit the amount of new capacity needed. They have proposed doing this by encouraging people to spread out demand throughout the day and night, for instance by charging electric cars or using domestic appliances at different times.

This could eventually be achieved by energy suppliers rolling out special tariffs that offer discounts at certain times of the day, such as Octopus’s Agile tariff. Such tariffs would allow customers to buy electricity at cheaper rates outside peak hours, perhaps using appliances or batteries that are programmed to automatically draw power at these times.

Who can take part?

Any household with a smart meter that buys electricity from Octopus Energy can take part. The trial is still open to new participants. 

How do I sign up?

Existing Octopus customers who want to join can email: [email protected]

I’m not an Octopus customer. Can I switch and take part in the trial?

Those who are not already Octopus customers can theoretically switch to an Octopus tariff and then apply to take part in the trial once their switching period is complete. However, it is worth noting that because the trial runs for less than two months, customers who join after the start date will benefit for a shorter period of time. 


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