We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Durham Energy Institute


Innovative Demand Side response project receives BEIS funding

(14 March 2019)

The Ubiquitous Storage Empowering Response (USER) project consortium is pleased to announce it has been awarded Phase 2 funding1 from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of the Domestic Demand-Side Response (DSR) competition launched last year. This funding forms part of the incentive to support innovative applications for smart energy systems and will subsequently help the USER project prove its commercial potential and demonstrate the benefits it can deliver to both individual households and National Grid. It’ll also give valuable insight to help the Government understand how climate targets can be met with greater support from the energy system’s demand side.

The USER project will be implemented by a consortium of the following organisations:
Levelise Limited, Heatrae Sadia, Ecuity Consulting, Engenera, Durham University and Energy Systems Catapult.

Commenting on the project, Dr. Hongjian Sun of Durham University summarised said: “We are very pleased to be a part of USER project, which combines complementary expertise of the consortium members to deliver an ambitious and innovative idea of using hot water cylinders to facilitate DSR for supporting power transmission system operations. This will be a very timely demonstration, showcasing the power of AI-techniques for enabling end-users’ involvement in power system operations.”

The project will see a trial of Levelise AI-led optimisation technology in real homes by connecting hot water cylinders with the transmission system operator. Commenting on the development, Dr. Iván Castro of Levelise said: “we are excited to have begun the demonstration phase of the USER project, it’ll deliver real world validation and data-driven recommendations that’ll allow us to showcase the added value of our optimisation service”… “hot water cylinders offer a significant DSR latent opportunity with 9 million already installed in homes across the country, but only if they are appropriately managed”.

Both retrofits in existing properties and installations in new-build homes will be done during the project. Installations will also be made in homes that have PV installations with and without domestic battery storage. The trial will therefore provide valuable information on how the technology can support DSR in homes with existing gas and electric heating systems as well as in homes with renewable energy systems that we expect to see in the future. Jeff House of Heatrae Sadia commented: “We look forward to working with the consortium to demonstrate the huge role that domestic hot water storage cylinders can play in providing valuable demand-side response for the energy system, bringing real benefits to new and existing homes.”

Fellow consortium member and stakeholder engagement lead, James Higgins from Ecuity commented: ‘’Hot water production represents one of the largest sources of energy consumption in UK homes – roughly 20% of total demand and this has a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions. The opportunity to provide energy bill savings to customers without any detriment to their day to day use of hot water whilst supporting a smarter energy system is incredibly exciting. We look forward to sharing results of the trial once it is up and running’’

Further information

  1. Levelise Limited
  2. BEIS funding for innovative smart energy systems
  3. Phase 2 Project details
  4. Phase 1 Project details
  5. Durham University Smart Grid Laboratory led by Dr Honjian Sun