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EnergyGreat Britain’s customers set to save billions on energy bills thanks to...

Great Britain’s customers set to save billions on energy bills thanks to new energy system.

A new energy system – developed in the north west, and the first of its kind – has the potential to save Great Britain’s customers up to £1bn, after being approved for national roll out by energy regulator Ofgem.

The system, called CLASS, was developed by Electricity North West as a way to help National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) manage the power network across Great Britain.

It works by helping balance spikes in demand for energy or dips in supply by imperceptibly reducing the amount of power being used by everything from streetlights to industry to everyday household devices.

Yesterday, Ofgem, gave its seal of approval stating in a report: “Our updated assessment suggests that the net economic benefit is likely to be significant. Prohibiting CLASS would narrow the set of choices available to the ESO and mean consumers faced higher electricity bills than they might otherwise do.”

It also said: “We consider that CLASS is one of the many low cost, low carbon and reliable technologies that will be needed to meet the ESO’s future balancing service requirements.”

The system was deployed over two years ago in the North West with North West customers having received approximately £7.3m off their own electricity bills as a result, on top of savings for all Great Britain’s energy consumers from lower balancing costs.

Ofgem also revealed: “Stakeholders including the National Grid ESO observed that CLASS could be deployed to reduce or, in some cases, eliminate the need for automated disconnection.”

Paul Bircham, Electricity North West’s engagement and regulatory strategy director, said: “In an incredibly difficult time for all customers, we’re delighted to see a forward thinking move by the energy regulator Ofgem in making a decision that enables a national rollout for CLASS.

“The system really is one-of-its-kind and it will benefit all electricity customers and if rolled out nationally, Ofgem have estimated CLASS could save customers in excess of £1bn.

“We do understand it’s a worrying time for all bill payers and we’re committed to doing everything we can to help ensure annual bills are kept as low as possible.”

Currently, Electricity North West receives around £90 from annual electricity bills which funds maintaining and upgrading the North West’s power network. And, as part of its new business plan which will see the business invest a record £1.7bn, it will also aim to keep its part of the bill as low as possible for customers.

And following Ofgem’s confirmation, Electricity North West is considering deploying it further across its network while it is already in talks with other network operators across Great Britain to help them adopt similar schemes outside the North West. Interest has also been shown internationally.

The need to balance the UK’s power supply in clean and low-cost ways has increased in recent years as the country transitions towards using more and more clean, renewable energy.

Because solar panels and wind turbines are less predictable, the National Grid has to be able to quickly respond to sudden rises or falls in electricity generation or changes in the nations use of electricity.

The changes CLASS makes are so small that typical households don’t notice a thing, but when applied across large areas, can make significant differences to the amount of short-term power required, helping stabilise the National Grid.

“Our engineers have worked for years to develop this technology and today’s ruling from Ofgem proves it was all worthwhile,” added Paul Bircham.

“As a country, we have always needed ways to either create new supply or limit demand at short notice but, until now, that has been often achieved by firing up fossil-fuel generators.

“This system does the same job, but without creating any of the harmful emissions that go with old legacy modes of generating electricity and we’re very proud to see Ofgem supporting it.”

CLASS can also allow network operators to free up more capacity by carefully reducing power on the network.

For more information about CLASS, visit https://www.enwl.co.uk/go-net-zero/innovation/key-projects/class.

News Desk
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