Octopus tackles grid imbalance with free electricity ‘Power-ups’ for customers

Innovating energy and technology company Octopus Energy has teamed up with UK Power Networks, the country’s largest electricity distribution network operator, to offer households free energy to help the grid exploit excess renewable power.

Customers will enjoy free electricity when there is excess from abundant renewables

Participating customers will get free electricity when there is excess on the local grid from abundant renewables. Based on UK Power Networks’ forecasts, Octopus will send customers a notification of the times they can ‘Power-ups’ their homes for free a day in advance.

Utilising excess renewables generation

With the necessity to address grid imbalance grabbing recent headlines, innovative grid operators, like UK Power Networks, are looking into alternative means of balancing the grid and avoiding the need to turn off renewable generators during surplus. 

With periods of sunny or windy weather resulting in excess renewably generated power Octopus has long championed a solution to avoid wasting this – unlock this energy to benefit customers, reduce consumption at other times, stabilise the grid and put money back into customer’s pockets.

Last winter, Octopus spearheaded the first ‘demand response’ project ever run by National Grid’s Demand Flexibility Service (DFS). 700,000 Octopus Energy customers signed up to use less at times of stress on the grid – and diverted £5.4 million to UK householders rather than gas power plants.

Making hay while the sun shines

Through the ‘Power-ups’ scheme Octopus is encouraging customers to carry out energy intensive activities, such as washing, cooking, charging EVs or battery storage, at times of high supply. By rebating the electricity used during ‘Power-ups’ windows as account credit Octopus is giving the excess generation free and reducing the demand at other times.

Initially available to selected Octopus Energy customers in the South and East of England, Octopus Energy wants to work with networks across the UK on Power-ups, and is inviting customers to let them know if they want Power-ups in their local area.

Alex Schoch, head of flexibility at Octopus Energy Group, described Power-ups as ‘another arrow in the quiver of demand flexibility’ saying: “Thanks to Octopus’ proprietary technology rewarding ‘demand turn up’, we no longer need to switch off bountiful solar and wind power when consumers can use it up for free instead. It’s good for the grid and good for the planet – a win for everybody.”

Sotiris Georgiopoulos, director of distribution system operator at UK Power Networks said: “In response to growing volumes of renewable power, UK Power Networks is the first distribution system operator to call for ‘demand turn up’.

“We’re delighted to have seen a strong response to the requirements we issued in December, including from innovators like Octopus. Tapping into customer flexibility means we can connect more renewable energy, keeping costs down for our customers.”

The scheme launched today, and more details can be found here.