The Smart Flex demand flexibility trial: how did we do?

The Smart Flex demand flexibility trial: how did we do?

04 May 2023

For the first quarter of 2023, Shell Energy - and a special group of our customers - took part in a groundbreaking UK-wide trial of a new way to help the UK manage its energy flow. Learn more about what we achieved, and hear from our grand prize winner.

There are times when the nation’s energy supply comes under a lot of pressure - on cold nights, usually, when everyone’s at home indoors with the heating and lights on.

As a nation, we needed to find new ways of addressing this problem, so National Grid set up the Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) with the aim of evening out major peaks in energy use.

The challenge was to get as many UK households as possible to join the collective effort of moving electricity use to periods of lower demand.

Our contribution - Smart Flex

We launched Smart Flex to help our customers take part in the DFS trial, rewarding participants with a series of prize draws. For every 0.1 kWh of electricity flexed, our customers earned entry into a series of prize draws - in which we gave away tens of thousands of pounds worth of vouchers and a MINI Electric car and charging post.

Participants were invited to a series of events - in which they were asked to reduce their electricity use as much as possible. They used their most energy-hungry appliances, such as dishwashers, ovens or washing machines, at less busy times for the grid.

What did our customers achieve?

To help you picture how much electricity we’re talking about, we’ll use one of the UK’s favourite home appliances - a kettle.

More than 21,000 Shell Energy customers completed the Smart Flex trial. Each household flexing during events ended up reducing their use by an average 0.43 kWh each time, enough to boil the average kettle three times.*

This might not sound like much, but over the trial it all added up to a big difference for the grid. In total, our customers flexed 25,041 kWh of electricity away from peak periods of energy use during the trial - enough to boil the average kettle 227,645 times.

And across the UK, 1.6 million energy customers took part, flexing 2.2 GWh overall - which adds up to a staggering 20 million kettle boils.

Plus - we had a Smart Flex winner!

In addition to everyone’s great work helping ease the strain on the UK’s energy flow, participants earned 221,000 prize draw entries. And won tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of prizes. Special congratulations go to Jane in Leeds, who won our grand prize of a MINI Electric car and charging post.

“We found taking part in the Smart Flex event really easy,” Jane told us, “only making small changes to save electricity. Most of the events were in the evening - so instead of every member of the family being in a different room, we all stayed in the same room and only needed to have one set of lights on.

Power to the people

"Together over 21,000 Shell Energy customers collectively proved the power that people hold in managing peaks in demand on the electricity grid," says Elvin Nagamootoo, Shell Energy’s Head of Energy Product. "To achieve net-zero the UK must electrify home and water heating as well as transport, all of which will put greater demand on the grid. The Smart Flex trial paves the way for the development of future products and services, enabling consumers to use electricity when it is at its cleanest and balance growing demand for power on the grid, ensuring security of supply."

See our Cleaner Energy Choices website for more information on how we can make our homes more energy-efficient and lower our carbon footprint.

* The average kitchen kettle is around 3,000 watts and uses around 0.11kWh to heat 1 litre of water.