Interoperability and cybersecurity are key issues as the number of energy-smart appliances and their involvement in demand response grows.
Electric vehicles and heating and other appliances are expected to be key in the future electricity system with their ability to provide flexibility to support fluctuating two-way energy flows in the grid.
In view of the growing market, the UK government has drawn up a set of proposals designed to ensure the protection of consumers and the electricity system and the development of a competitive market.
The focus is on three ‘key’ areas – the technical frameworks to unlock the flexibility potential for residential and small business users, the security of the electricity system and the confidence of users to engage with the system.
In the short term, by mid-2020, the proposals are to require energy suppliers to make publicly available time-of-use tariff data in a common format and to require smart home appliances, including heat pumps, storage heaters, thermal batteries and batteries, meet minimum requirements for cyber security and network stability.
In the medium term, of the heating appliances with the greatest potential for flexibility, i.e. heat pumps, storage heaters and heat batteries should be required to have “smart” functionality.
It is also proposed to create a licensing framework for organizations providing demand-side response to residential and small non-residential consumers and to require all organizations controlling large electrical loads above 300 MW to comply with national cyber security regulations on their networks and information systems.
In the longer term, in the mid-to-late 2020s, larger smart home appliances, including EV charging points, batteries and heat pumps, should be fully interoperable with demand-side response service providers and must meet cybersecurity, network stability, and data privacy requirements.
For this purpose, the previously consulted and developed PAS 1878 standard defining the system functionality and architecture for energy-smart appliances is indicated as a basis.
The proposal document notes that some of the “new” services are already being provided on a small scale to local users. For example, EV owners can get discounts, rewards or cash back by charging their car during times of the day when demand for electricity is typically low.
However, there are currently barriers to the growth of this sector. Not all tariffs and services are available for all devices and there is limited consumer protection to build confidence in the market. In addition, the increased use of smart appliances and other connected services can create risks to the energy system, such as creating new routes for cyber attacks.
The suggestions are under consultation until 28 September 2022.