Smart metering and demand-side response

Smart metering and demand-side response

The electricity supply in this country is undergoing a fundamental change as we are moving from a one-way flow of electricity from big generation plants to the consumer. Instead, generation is more distributed and more variable, consumers can better monitor and manage their energy use and new technologies and business models are emerging.
Distributed generation from solar panels and wind turbines are 2 obvious changes, but the demand-side response is a growing and important part of the change. 
The demand-side response is where the consumer is encouraged to change how and when they use electricity in response to the availability of power and the load on the grid. This lowers the need for supply capacity designated for use at times of peak demand. It can also keep the amount of electricity demand within the limitations of the national and local grids.

Effects of DSR on Typical UK Demand Profile

Smart metering is key to this "encouragement" as the likely mechanism will be tariffs that change possibly 1/2 hourly with the price going up at peak times and down when there is a surplus. The display provided with the smart meter will inform the consumer about the current price.

Trials have already taken place and in the Parliamentary Office of science and technology PostNote 452 January 2014 There was the following:
"Trials have shown that DSR in households, particularly those using smart meter displays combined with time-of-use tariffs, lead to 10-14% of demand being shifted away from peak times. Consumers shifting their use to lower cost times can reduce their bills. DECC has conducted a review of a number of worldwide trials, which shows that most consumers who participate in DSR can lower their electricity bills if they respond to time-of-use tariffs, with reductions from 2-39%. However, prices rise at other times and for those who do not respond bills could rise. The evidence on the responsiveness of vulnerable and low-income consumers, and, therefore, their bills, is mixed."
What is most worrying (knowing that people do not even bother to switch suppliers annually) are the last 2 sentences, if you do not respond, it will cost you!

The domestic demand-side response has been in use for a long time in the form of Economy 7 type tariffs where night storage heaters are switched on at night when there is a surplus power and the price is low. The important thing is that it is done automatically, the user has to do nothing to take advantage of the lower price and this is what is missing.

Without a big push for home automation alongside smart metering, the vast majority of consumers are going to be paying more and the benefits of demand-side response on our electricity generation requirements are going to be lost. 

Added Tuesday 15th December 2015