A coal-ossal opportunity: Octopus Energy customers prove coal unnecessary during cold snap

  • Dirty coal no longer necessary during power shortages thanks to successful rollout of ‘Demand Flexibility Service’
  • Scheme proves households can provide the flexibility the UK energy system needs to get through winter
  • Comes as National Grid issues a power supply warning due to the cold weather, asking coal plants to stand by

London, 7th March 2023 - Octopus Energy, the UK’s third largest energy supplier, is calling for an end to the use of coal as a backup energy source during winter. This comes as National Grid issued a power supply warning, asking coal plants to stand by as a cold weather snap is putting pressure on the grid.

In recent months, the UK has experienced a number of power supply shortages due to unexpected cold weather events. In response, the grid has turned to coal power plants to fill the gap, despite their negative impact on the environment and public health.

During another week of lower-than-expected temperatures in the UK, Octopus Energy is urging the use of alternative, already proven solutions to coal, such as National Grid’s new ‘Demand Flexibility Service’ (DFS). The scheme has paid participating households and businesses across the country millions this winter for lowering their energy consumption when there is stress on the grid.

The DFS has already been activated twice this winter in response to real weather events. During the hours it was called into service, Octopus Energy customers provided the same energy demand drop as the city of Leicester turning off for an hour. If other suppliers provided similar demand flexibility, coal would no longer be necessary to meet power demand during peak times.

Octopus Energy's version of the service, which is named ‘Saving Sessions’, allows customers to be rewarded with energy credit or cashback for their participation, creating a win-win situation for both customers and the environment. The scheme has already signed up almost half of the company’s eligible smart meter customers (600,000) and has paid them almost £5 million for 12.5 hours of reduced demand.

Alex Schoch, Head of Flexibility at Octopus Energy, comments: "The grid has shown incredible initiative by moving on demand flexibility so quickly. But its commitment to keeping one foot in the past and sticking with the same polluting coal power plants that we have had for decades is sending mixed signals.”

"National Grid’s new demand flexibility service is already offering a cheaper, more practical and sustainable solution to peaks in energy demand, while putting millions of pounds back into people’s pockets that would otherwise be paid to fossil fuel companies. Even during this cold snap, households can deliver the flexibility that’s needed, get paid for it and reduce costs for everyone.”

Octopus Energy is committed to building a cleaner, more sustainable future for the UK and believes that the energy grid has a vital role to play in achieving this goal. By ending the use of coal in blackouts and creating a smart, flexible grid, the UK can take a significant step towards a greener and more resilient energy infrastructure.


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About Octopus Energy Group

Octopus Energy Group is a global energy tech pioneer, launched in 2016 to use technology to unlock a customer focused and affordable green energy revolution. It is part of Octopus Group, which is a certified BCorp. With operations in 19 countries, Octopus Energy Group's mission is going global.

Octopus’s domestic energy arm already serves 4.9 million customers with cheaper greener power, through Octopus Energy, Bulb, Affect Energy, Ebico, London Power and Co-op Energy. Octopus Electric Vehicles is helping make clean transport cheaper and easier, and Octopus Energy Services is bringing smart products to thousands of homes. Octopus Energy Generation is one of Europe’s largest investors in renewable energy, managing a nearly £6 billion portfolio of renewable energy assets throughout the continent.

In December 2021, Octopus Energy Group was valued at approximately $5 billion following investments from Generation Investment Management and Canada Pensions Plan Investments Board. Both investors back businesses that drive sustainability, promote green energy and tackle climate change. It was the company’s third major investment round since launching to the market.

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