Cancel Coal-ture: Octopus Energy calls on National Grid to “pay customers not coal”

  • Octopus Energy’s ‘Saving Sessions’ proved that paying users to shift usage (“consumer flexibility”) can remove the need for coal
  • Consumer flexibility could unlock over 2.1GW of grid flexibility
  • It could cost a quarter of the price of coal as a backup source of power
  • Paying coal plants adds £400m to bills - whilst paying customers could push bills down by a hundred million.

London, 13th June 2023 - Octopus Energy calls on National Grid ESO to stop burning coal to support the grid and instead use consumer flexibility as a permanent, low carbon and cost-effective backup source of energy.

The warning comes as National Grid ESO this week asked coal-fired power stations to warm up in case additional power supply was needed during the current heatwave, paying them over £60,000 for the backup service*.

However, a new White Paper by Octopus Energy shows there is a dramatically cheaper and cleaner alternative – consumer flexibility.

Over the course of last winter, National Grid ESO paid up to £395 million for keeping coal power plants on standby. If consumer flexibility had been deployed at full scale, it would have cost a quarter of that (roughly £100m) for the same benefit to the grid, and with considerably lower emissions, according to the report.

The White Paper analysed the results of Octopus’ consumer flexibility scheme – ‘Saving Sessions’ – which saw over 700,000 Octopus customers with smart meters take part over the course of last winter.

Together, they shifted around 1.9GWh of electricity out of peak times, the equivalent of stopping about 2 million washing machine runs.

Scaling up Octopus' results to all 17.3 million UK homes with smart meters would unlock over 2.1GW of demand shift – enough to entirely replace coal as a backup source.

The top 5% of ‘Saving Sessions’ participants earned over £40 over winter and 96% of customers surveyed said they are interested in participating in the scheme again.

Thousands of customers chose to donate their earnings to Octopus Energy’s financial hardship fund – ‘Octo Assist’ – together donating more than £170,000 to customers who are struggling with their bills.

Alex Schoch, Head of Flexibility at Octopus Energy, commented: “We’ve shown the potential of consumer flexibility - it’s now time to roll this out across the UK and end our reliance on expensive and dirty coal power plants once and for all.

“Over the winter we saw how our future green grid would work. We’ve proven that households can balance the grid and be part of the movement away from fossil fuels.

“We’re still in a cost of living crisis and It’s crazy to pay coal power plants when we could pay hard-pressed customers instead.”


Notes to editors

* Utility Week, 12.6.2023

** Octopus Energy White Paper ‘Consumer flexibility: ready to replace coal’, 8.6.2023

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About Octopus Energy Group

Octopus Energy is a global energy and technology group, driving the affordable, green energy system of the future. Its operations span 14 countries and the entire energy value chain. The group invests in, builds and flexibly manages renewable energy, operating a £6 billion portfolio of projects – one of Europe’s largest.

Octopus serves 5.3 million customers through its retail arm, and has licensed its advanced data and machine learning platform, Kraken, to support 30 million customer accounts worldwide through licensing deals with energy companies, including EDF, E.ON and Origin Energy.

Kraken enables Octopus to drive the electrification of heat and transport through smart tariffs and innovative cleantech. Backed by pension funds, investors and energy giants, Octopus Energy Group businesses deliver cheaper, greener energy and cutting-edge tech to countries and customers worldwide.

For more information, check out our website.

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