What is the trial?
EQUINOX is an innovation trial supported by Ofgem and funded through the regulator’s Network Innovation Competition (NIC). The trial will test new billing schemes to reward households for temporarily altering their heating choices without compromising on comfort. EQUINOX saves consumers money by lowering energy bills and mitigating costly system upgrades, while contributing to a more resilient and equitable low-carbon energy system.
EQUINOX is led by National Grid (Electricity Distribution), formerly Western Power Distribution, in partnership with Octopus Energy, Passiv UK, Sero, SP Energy Networks, Welsh Government, West Midlands Combined Authority, National Energy Action (NEA), Scottish Power Energy Retail, and Guidehouse.
Residents who participate in the EQUINOX trial agree to allow Sero to turn down their heat pump 2-3 times a week from 5pm - 7pm on particular days. These will be referred to as 'EQUINOX Events'. During these times comfort disruption will be minimum and each participant will receive a credit on their energy account to reflect how much energy they saved, helping them to save energy, money and the planet!
If everyone in the UK decided to turn on their electrical appliances at the same time, this could cause something called “grid congestion”, where the amount of electricity needed is more than the electricity grid can carry. This is especially likely to happen during “peak times” in the mornings or evenings when most people are at home and using electricity to cook, clean, and power other devices.
The transition to a much higher level of electric-based heating via heat pumps in order to take advantage of green energy will put a lot more pressure on the grid during “peak times”. Increasing the amount of electricity used by households means that the grid would require massive system upgrades, which are costly to consumers.
A more flexible grid system could mean better tariffs, a reduced need for expenditure on infrastructure and networks, the implementation cost of which would ultimately end up being passed onto the customer, and a new way of looking at how we consume energy in our homes. This trial aims to explore how we can ensure that the grid energy we all use can become more sustainable, whilst saving consumers money.
You can find more information about the EQUINOX trial and FAQ’s on National Grids website here.