Incentivising people to use power when renewable output is surplus but demand is low helps balance out peaks and keep the grid in equilibrium. Energy suppliers are already experimenting with time-of-use tariffs, which track electricity prices on the wholesale market. As periods of low demand and high renewable generation send market prices negative – something we have seen more than 250 times already during 2020 – consumers will be compensated for soaking up excess clean power. During the 2020 May bank holidays, Octopus, a sustainable energy firm based in the UK, invited 50,000 customers to take part in a trial of its Agile Octopus tariff’s “plunge pricing”. High renewable output coupled with low demand as a result of lockdown pushed prices below zero and participants were paid between 2p and 5p per kWh to move their energy use into off-peak windows. Those who took part in the trial used an additional 71MWh in those periods – the equivalent of 10,000 electric cars charging for an hour – and eight times more power than those in a control group. It showed that even modest price incentives drive behavioural change.
Wired 14th Dec 2020 read more »