Consumers offered incentive: Turn off appliances to earn money back
Published 26/11/2015 | 02:30
Homeowners who agree to curb their electricity consumption at peak times will be paid for helping to reduce demand.
National grid operator, EirGrid, is hoping to sign up at least 1,500 households across the country who will agree to turn off appliances.
The move is designed to reduce emissions produced by burning fossil fuels to generate electricity, as well as saving money.
EirGrid chief executive Fintan Slye told the Irish Independent that households who signed up to the pilot scheme would be paid around €100 a year - equivalent to one month's electricity bill.
The scheme, called Demand Response, is commonly used for large industrial users and has never been trialled in Europe for the domestic market.
The latest figures show that, in 2013, some 57.8 million tonnes of carbon was produced in Ireland. Of this, energy production accounted for almost 20pc - or 11.3 million tonnes.
"It's designed to try and get the demand side - and, in particular, residential customers - participating in the electricity market," Mr Slye said.
"There are companies out there called aggregators which do it for large customers, but no one is doing it for the domestic level.
"The aggregator will pull together a number of residential customers - around 1,500 or 2,000 - and will offer services to us as a system operator to reduce demand in response to a request.
"It won't be turning off the power to your house. It could be that the aggregator will contact you, and you might agree to turn off your washing machine or other appliance.
"It could be that the company communicates with a control which, for example, heats water. It could be automatic, by text or by a call."
Some power suppliers now offer home energy management systems, like Nest or Hive, which allow users to control their heating systems from their smartphones.
However, technology exists which allows other appliances, such as storage heaters, to be controlled remotely. The pilot scheme will allow these to be used more extensively.
EirGrid insisted that the pilot was not being rolled out due to a lack of capacity.
This has become a live issue in the UK, where the closure of aging coal, nuclear and gas power plants over the coming years may result in power shortages.
"This is not about not having enough capacity," Mr Slye said.
"As more and more renewables come on, which are variable, we need to have more tools to manage that variability in the most cost-effective way.
"The alternative to doing this might be to start a generator, which costs a lot of money and results in emissions."
One megawatt (MW) of power serves around 650 households, and the scheme is aimed at saving between 2MW and 5MW.