Energy Saving

Bristol Water trials new market innovation to cut energy costs

Posted on 30 July 2019
By Dan Connor
Dan Connor
DSR Development and Delivery Manager

Dan works at the forefront of npower Business Solutions’ innovative energy management solution, Energy HQ and has helped to build a DSR proposition to maximise revenues from all types of customer flexibility.

Many organisations find that after people, utilities are one of their largest business expense.  So finding new ways to cut down on energy consumption and costs is key.

Bristol Water’s Energy Management Team has been able to generate revenue at its Barrow site by taking simple measures and adopting new practices , thanks to a new innovation delivered by our Energy HQ Team.

We’ve been working with Bristol Water for nearly 20 years as part of a long-term partnership and, as they are a large consumers  – using around 80GWh of energy each year – we are always looking for ways to help them buy and use that energy more efficiently and to benefit from new innovations.

Reducing consumption

A number of Bristol Water’s energy-intensive sites reduce consumption during the period of peak demand over the winter season, from 4-7pm November-February. During this period, transmission, distribution and Capacity Market charges are significantly higher, to incentivise consumers to reduce demand on the national system. By reducing site consumption, Bristol Water avoid a large proportion of these costs. For National Grid’s Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) charge alone, this can amount to six-figure annual savings.

As an essential utility that has to provide and process water around the clock, some of their activities cannot be interrupted. So to save on peak charges Bristol Water’s Barrow site switch to on-site generation whenever there is a suspected Triad.

“Our Triad Warning Team work with Mike Sumbler, Water Supply and Energy Manager at Bristol Water, to provide intelligence to help reduce peak costs,” explains Steve Peill, Client Lead at npower Business Solutions, Energy HQ.

“We closely monitor a range of parameters relating to national energy demand then issue a Triad warning, the engineer at Bristol Water’s Barrow site then switches on the on-site generator, so negating the need to import power from the grid.”

While this reduces peak-demand-related non-commodity costs, it also frees up around 0.5 megawatts of power when market prices are potentially at a high.

Trialling Market Access

After undertaking data analysis of their portfolio of energy-intensive sites, we suggested that Bristol Water trial our new Market Access service at their Barrow site.

This service facilitates the selling back of power freed up by demand management when the wholesale market prices peak. To participate, the only thing Bristol Water needed to do was give their permission.

“As our engineer was already running a generator in response to Triad warnings, it was easy to add on  Market Access, without requiring any extra work or effort on our part. The Energy HQ team at npower Business Solutions, monitored the market on our behalf, and if the price on the Day Ahead or APX Within Day market was higher than our purchase price for the Triad Warning period, their Optimisation Desk Team would notify us and sell back our excess power,” explains Bristol Water’s Mike Sumbler.

Other potential opportunities

Mike, Steve and the Energy HQ Team are now looking at how best to maximise energy revenues and savings for Bristol Water, using Market Access and other demand management solutions.

“With Market Access, it’s possible to respond to any market peaks – not just potential Triads,” explains Steve.

“We can experience spikes due to a number of factors, including unplanned power station outages, interconnector failures or colder than average weather, with prices historically hitting as much as £500 a megawatt for periods of extreme system pressure . Our Energy HQ Team can also automate generator response, eliminating the need for any customer involvement other than agreeing to participate.”

As Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) start to take a more proactive role in balancing local supply and demand, we are seeing new Demand Side Response (DSR) initiatives emerging. So now is an ideal time to assess the potential for any business.

If you would like to know more about how you can use consumption flexibility in your business to reduce your overall energy costs and earn revenue through Demand Side Response – get in touch with our experts at npower Business Solutions, Energy HQ on 0800 193 6866 or send an email to



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