Flexible energy

Flexible Energy: How can we ensure a smooth transition to a new energy system?

For many years, efforts have been made to increase the use of renewable energy sources to reduce carbon emissions and lower the impact on the environment. However, changing our traditional energy supplies to renewable energy sources is not straightforward. The energy system as we know it is struggling to cope not only with the use of new technologies but also with the increasing demand for electricity. Flexible energy has been put forward as a way of restoring the balance between the supply and demand of energy. Although flexible energy comes with its own challenges.

What is flexible energy?

As we are moving from a centralised fossil-fuelled generation to a decentralised renewable one, it is becoming harder to keep the balance between the supply and the demand of energy. Renewable energy sources do not produce energy on a constant flow and can be quite unpredictable (depending on weather and time of the day). This works against the regular and increasing demand in energy.  In order to restore the balance, the production and consumption of energy need to be more flexible, so the amount of power generated matches the amount used. Flexible energy means adapting the way we use and store energy to the way it is produced.

Flexible energy involves making changes in both energy supply and demand, which can be done in different ways:

Distributed generation: people can generate electricity at home or at work by installing renewable energy sources, such as rooftop solar panels.

Demand-side response: consumers can change the way they use energy and their daily routine, so the electricity is used when the demand isn’t as high. New technologies, such as smart meters, heating/cooling systems or energy-saving white goods are making energy consumption more flexible by providing new management system.

Energy storage: usually in the form of batteries, these will store the energy produced by renewable energy sources when there is an abundance of excess energy so it can be used when renewable energy sources aren’t producing enough electricity.

Why is flexible energy needed?

The way we consume energy is changing and the increasing demand for electricity is putting more pressure on the National Grid. The Grid has been a reliable infrastructure for many years, but it is now struggling to keep a balance on the production and consumption of energy. When this balance is disrupted, the Grid is at risk of failing. It is therefore essential to adapt our energy system so we can maintain stability and reliability to the Grid. Flexible energy can help ease the pressure on the Grid by increasing the use of renewable energy sources and energy storage products. As renewable energy is fluctuating and unpredictable, flexible energy means that the surplus energy generated can either be stored for later use or it can be sold back to the Grid.

Flexible energy is essential for putting a new energy system in place but there is a lack of regulations which needs to be addressed.

“It’s all about consumer safety and protection.”

In order to deliver flexible energy, it is essential to increase the use of products which generate and store energy such as Solar PV, Energy Storage, Electric Vehicles (EV), Vehicle to Grid storage or EV charging points. For a smooth transition to a new flexible energy system, stakeholders need to work together in order to protect consumers, raise standards and increase confidence in this new sector. Flexi-Orb is helping to do so by setting 3 objectives:

1- Ensuring the safe and controlled deployment of energy saving, energy generating and energy storing products.

Without a framework and a monitoring procedure, consumers aren’t protected against faulty products, incorrect installations or missold savings from energy bills etc. There is not a robust system in place to monitor installers, assess installations, recall faulty products, or to decommission/recycle products that have reached their end of their life cycle.

To address these issues, Flexi-Orb oversees the process from start to finish:

  • Products are certified to UK standards to ensure they are safe and reliable
  • Installers are members of a Certification Body and follow a Chartered Trading Standards Institute Approved Consumer Code
  • Consumers receive financial protection, access to alternative dispute resolution and are not missold
  • Central registration system: deployment, notification, product recall, decommissioning and recycling of products

2- Delivering oversight data (through its IT platforms and registers) and regulatory support to ensure consumers are protected

A/ Certified products and registered installers

Flexi-Orb’s Flexible Energy Register has been designed to provide oversight of energy products, such as Energy Storage, Solar PV, Electric Vehicles (Batteries & Vehicle 2 Grid) and EV Charging Points, which are certified and registered. Only products with relevant certification can be registered on the system by installers registered with Flexi-Orb. This is to ensure consumers are protected against unsafe installations and their installers are qualified to install.

B/ Single Data Entry Solution for multiple key stakeholders

Flexi-Orb’s Flexible Energy Register provides a central point for installers and manufacturers to register energy products, reducing admin and time. Registrations will allow you to locate the products and register co-locations with any other energy products (solar panels and battery storage for example).

Flexi-Orb’s Flexible Energy Register also allows key stakeholders such as government, Distribution Network Operators (DNO) and Certification Bodies to be notified so it helps them manage future energy policy and network.

C/ Finance lenders and insurance providers

Flexi-Orb requires all installers are registered with an approved insurance provider to ensure Insurance Backed Guarantees (IBG) are in place for consumers. An IBG will offer protection in case an installer ceases to trade and is unable to honour their written workmanship guarantee. Flexi-Orb also gives consumers free access to alternative dispute resolution through Consumer Codes.

3- Enabling true interoperability, working towards achieving a decentralised, flexible, zero carbon, low-cost energy network.

The Flexible Energy Register also provides a platform to help coordinate the recall, rectification or decommissioning of old systems when required and to communicate with stakeholders, such as DNOs, manufacturers and certification bodies. It also helps the fire department to locate products within homes in case of fire.

If you would like more information about any of our services, please feel free to contact us at info@flexi-orb.co.uk or call 0330 335 3382.