London, U.K. --- (METERING.COM) --- April 2, 2013 - The U.K.'s largest smart grid project has completed the first stage of its research into electricity consumption after establishing a series of ongoing trials with 12,000 customers.

The £54 million Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR) project is testing a number of innovative solutions to ensure Britain's electricity networks are fit for the future and ready for the mass uptake of low carbon technologies, such as solar PV, heat pumps and electric vehicles.

Government targets to cut carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 will help the UK reduce its carbon footprint and establish a low carbon economy, but achieving these targets will largely depend on low carbon technologies being adopted on a nationwide scale.

“Through the CLNR project, we are already preparing for the widespread uptake of low carbon technologies by carrying out ground-breaking trials with thousands of customers and testing innovative new technology on the electricity network,” said Dr Liz Sidebotham, communications manager for the project.

Within the first stage, the project has been studying thousands of residential, commercial and industrial electricity customers to better understand how much electricity people use, when they use it and for what purpose, and whether financial or other incentives can encourage them to shift their usage away from periods of peak demand.

While at this stage the findings are preliminary, the project has revealed a huge appetite from domestic customers for time of use (TOU) tariffs.  

Led by Northern Powergrid and its partners British Gas, EA Technology and Durham University, the CLNR project will continue to study electricity consumption patterns, customer flexibility and trial pioneering new smart grid technology across electricity networks in the North East and Yorkshire regions throughout 2013.

Liz added: "Later this year we will be publishing more results that provide further insight into customer flexibility and the effect of various interventions such as demand side response, where customers are incentivised to reduce their electricity usage or increase their generation in response to a signal from the electricity network operator.

"The current debate around the capacity margin needed to meet the UK's future energy needs has largely overlooked the role of smart grids and demand side measures, but if customers are willing to be flexible with how and when they use electricity, it would offer a cost-effective solution in the drive to create a sustainable, low carbon energy sector."

The findings from all CLNR trials are being shared with other electricity distribution network operators across the UK and on the project's website to help the energy industry prepare for the low carbon future.