Save Money While Helping the Grid: Equinox Heat Pump Flexibility Trial Kicks Off

Guidehouse supports Equinox, an innovation project aiming to test new billing schemes and create a balance between electricity supply and demand over the course of the winter

This winter, heat pump owners will be able to take part in a unique trial, saving around £100 on their bills by turning off their heat pumps for set periods of two hours. The Equinox trial will help customers save money on bills while we test the extent to which changing consumer consumption can help to increase grid flexibility. Recruitment for the trial has already begun with the aim of starting the trial in December 2022 and is being led by project partners, Octopus Energy and Sero.

Stuart Fowler, Innovation Engineer at National Grid and Equinox Project Manager, said: “Equinox is about putting customers at the heart of a more flexible energy system and seeks to utilize the supplier, customer relationship to test consumer appetite for demand side services. These services will be vital for a more flexible grid and security of supply. We are really excited about the learning potential from Equinox and glad to have such a great consortia.”

The Equinox trial, which is funded through Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition, will run every winter from 2022 to 2025 and will test if heat pump owners are willing to reduce the temperature of their homes for short periods of time for modest financial incentives to help balance energy demand. Duration and scale of temperature reductions should mean minimal disruption to daily habits and comfort in the home.

Cheryl Hiles, Director of Energy Capital, part of the West Midlands Combined Authority, added: “The West Midlands needs our energy system to operate in a smarter way, to enable our citizens and businesses to benefit from the energy transition– we need to make our energy system work better for us, rather than just generating more energy to meet increasing demand. Energy consumers are key to this and National Grid are important partners in the region’s efforts to shape the energy system. This project will help us to understand and influence behaviors to provide a more flexible and effective energy system, and we look forward to seeing how the outcomes of the Equinox innovation project can be used to shape future consumer propositions.”

The Equinox trial will seek to understand to what extent future grid upgrades can be minimized or deferred, helping participants to reduce their future bills as well as their current ones. Furthermore, if the trial is successful, Equinox can be rolled out further afield, allowing customers outside the trial region to also benefit from bill savings.

James Williams, CEO at Sero, said: “Sero was founded on the principle that connected net zero measures like heat pumps will help to enable cost saving and energy independence both to residents and the broader electricity grid.

“This is why we're thrilled to be part of the Equinox project, the first coordinated demand side response application of our proven technology, demonstrating that this technology combined with positive community engagement can help to balance the grid in times of pressure, supporting net zero targets without sacrificing resident comfort."

Alex Schoch, Head of Flexibility at Octopus Energy Group - whose customers will take part in the trial - said: “Heat pumps are the future of heating. In an increasingly green, cheap and electric grid they also pose an amazing solution to grid flexibility and resilience in the face of blackouts. The Equinox trial is seeking to prove how important these magical devices will be to the energy system of the future, while still keeping customers cozy and warm in their homes. We’re excited to get going.”

Octopus customers who would like to get involved can register their interest here. To find out more about the trial, visit the project webpage here.

Equinox is led by National Grid (Electricity Distribution), in partnership with Octopus Energy, Passiv UK, Sero, SP Energy Networks, Welsh Government, West Midlands Combined Authority, National Energy Action (NEA), Scottish Power Energy Retail, and Guidehouse.

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