Challenging Winter Ahead for Triad Season

Winter is fast approaching and the Triad season will soon begin. This is an important time for many large UK consumers as they seek to lower transmission costs by reducing demand during potential Triad periods. Triads are three half-hour periods with the highest electricity demand between the start of November and the end of February and each Triad must be separated by at least 10 clear days. This means consecutive days of high demand won’t result in multiple Triads.

If your electricity contract allows it then reducing your demand at these specific points will result in lower transmission charges. However, knowing when Triads occur is a complex business so, to help our clients, EIC provides a Triad Alert service. We have successfully forecast each of the three Triad periods for the last 8 years, saving customers millions of pounds in transmission charges.

Pandemic continues to suppress demand

Winter peak demand is at its lowest point since 1992/93 and is now 14 GW (~24%) lower than the peak of 2010/11. There are a number of factors that have contributed to the fall in peak demand over the past decade. These include improvements to the energy efficiency of appliances, an increase in LED lighting and a rise in embedded generation.

However, in 2020 we can add another significant contributor to demand reduction. The coronavirus pandemic has led to a dramatic fall in peak demand since mid-March. Demand has increased since lockdown ended but is still lower than previous years.

National Grid are currently forecasting peak demand over the Triad period to be around 43-44 GW, slightly lower than last winter’s peak of 45 GW. The winter demand forecast looks to be flatter than previous years, making predicting when Triads will fall far more challenging. It is therefore important to receive Triad alerts from a trusted and reliable source such as EIC.

EIC’s record of Triad season success

EIC has an in-house model which has successfully forecast every triad period for the last eight years. We issue clients with comprehensive alerts advising them when a Triad is forecast, so they can reduce consumption accordingly.

Our Triad Alert Service forecasts the likelihood of any particular day being a Triad and sends alerts before 10am. Businesses can then take action to avoid high usage during these periods, while minimising disruption to everyday activity. We also monitor the market throughout the day and send out an afternoon alert in the event of significant change. The daily report can also help you plan ahead with an overview of the next 14 days alongside a long-term winter outlook.

Calling daily alerts would generate a 100% success rate, however this could have a negative impact on our clients. Organisations would incur major damage to revenues if required to turn down their production each day for 4 months ‘just in case’ and at EIC our aim is to provide as few alerts as possible. Over the 2019/20 Triad period we called just 13 alerts while the average supplier issued over 20.

Triads granted extra year

In December 2019, Ofgem published their final decision on the Targeted Charging Review (TCR). The main outcome of this decision is that, from April 2021, the residual part of transmission charges will be levied in the form of fixed charges for all households and businesses. However, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic Ofgem has decided to delay this by a year. This provides an extra opportunity for consumers to benefit from Triad avoidance before TCR changes arrive in April 2022.

With the TCR, Ofgem aims to introduce a charge it considers fair to all consumers, not just those able to reduce during peak periods. For the majority of consumers these changes will lead to a reduction in transmission costs. However, for those who are currently taking Triad avoidance action it is likely that their future costs will rise.

How we can help with Triad season

We have helped hundreds of clients avoid these transmission costs by providing them with the tools needed, giving EIC an enviable track record in Triad prediction.

Last year, our customers cut demand by an average of 41% compared to standard winter peak-period half-hour consumption – resulting in significant cost savings. Clients who responded to our Triad Alerts, saved on average £180,000. Our best result last winter saw a client saving nearly £1 million in TNUoS charges.

The Triad season starts on 1 November. Find out more about our Triad Alert service.

Last call for Triads

National Grid have published the three Triad dates for the 2019/20 season, which are listed in the table below. For an eighth consecutive year EIC has successfully called an alert on each of these days.

There was a significant reduction in the number of Triad calls this year with EIC only issuing 13 alerts in total, nearly half the number called the previous winter. This compares favourably with other suppliers who called an average of 24 alerts across the Triad period.

Triads are three half-hour periods with the highest electricity demand between the start of November and the end of February. Each Triad must be separated by at least 10 clear days. This means consecutive days of high demand won’t result in multiple Triads. If consumers are able to respond to Triad alerts by reducing demand then they will be able to lower their final transmission costs.

Lowest peak demand for 27 years

Peak demand is at its lowest point since 1992/93 and is now 14 GW (~24%) lower than the peak of 2010/11. There are a number of factors that have contributed to the fall in peak demand over the past decade. These include improvements to the energy efficiency of appliances, an increase in LED lighting and a rise in embedded generation.

Embedded wind output peaked at 3.4 GW during the Triad period. As embedded generators are connected to local distribution networks, this displaces a similar amount of demand from the transmission network. Therefore, peak demand is typically higher on days with low wind which increases the risk of a Triad occurring. This trend can be seen in the graph below which shows that for every 1 GW increase in embedded wind output there was an associated drop in peak demand of 0.9 GW.

Mild January leads to new record

For the first time since the Triad methodology was implemented, all three Triads have occurred before Christmas. This is mainly due to the mild and windy weather conditions experienced so far in 2020.

In terms of temperature, we’ve seen the mildest January since 2007 and second mildest in past 30 years. Across the Triad season only six weekdays had an average temperature below 3°C with only one of these occurring after Christmas. This compares to 17 the previous winter and 23 for the 2017/18 winter.

Wind generation increased throughout the Triad season with a pre-Christmas average of 6.5 GW significantly lower than the January and February average of 9.2 GW. As the weather conditions in November and December were generally colder and calmer, this increased the probability of Triads occurring during this period. Subsequently, all three Triads fell before Christmas on days when temperatures were below 4°C and wind power was less than 5 GW.

Demand response results in March peak

Peak demand on 5th March was higher than any day within the Triad period which can be seen in the graph below. The weather conditions on this day were demand supportive with an average temperature of 4°C and wind power around 5 GW. In comparison, on the 20th and 21st January weather conditions were similar, however peak demand was around 1.7 GW lower. This demonstrates the effect that Triad avoidance has had on reducing peak demand over the past few years. It also suggests that peak demand may start to increase after next winter without the incentive to consumers of reducing transmission costs. The elimination of a number of embedded benefits for generators is expected to limit the growth in embedded generation which will also have an effect on peak demand.

Demand response also led to a Triad falling between 4:30pm and 5pm, which is the earliest occurrence in 22 years. This Triad was, in fact, missed by one supplier who advised consumers to reduce demand between 5pm and 5:30pm. As some businesses are only able to reduce demand for short periods, the largest volume of demand response is typically seen between 5pm and 6pm. This has the effect of flattening the evening peak and increasing the risk of the peak half-hour falling either side of this window, as was the case on 17th December. All 13 Triad alerts issued by EIC covered the correct HH period, comparing favourably to an average success rate of 78% across other suppliers.

TCR Final Decision

In December, Ofgem published their final decision on the Targeted Charging Review (TCR). The main outcome of this decision is that from April 2021 the residual part of transmission charges will be levied in the form of fixed charges for all households and businesses. This means that there is one final chance for consumers to benefit from Triad avoidance over the 2020/21 winter period.

The TCR aims to introduce a charge that Ofgem considers is fair to all consumers and not just those able to reduce consumption during peak periods. For the majority of consumers these changes will lead to a reduction in transmission costs. However, for those who are currently taking Triad avoidance action it is likely that their future costs will rise.

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Be prepared for Triad season

A crucial time in the UK energy calendar, Triad season, begins in just a matter of weeks. The Triad season runs from 1 November to the end of February. Three half hour periods during this phase are used to calculate transmission charges for the entire year by National Grid. This is part of the Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) scheme. If your electricity contract allows it, reducing your demand at these specific points will result in lower transmission charges. However, knowing when Triads occur is a complex business.

To help our clients, EIC provides a Triad Alert service. We have successfully forecast each of the three Triad periods for the last 7 years. By predicting Triads each winter, EIC has saved customers millions of pounds in transmission charges.

WHAT ARE TRIADS?

Triads are three half-hour periods with the highest electricity demand between 1 November and 28 February. Each Triad must be separated by at least 10 clear days. This means consecutive days of high demand won’t result in multiple Triads.

A NEW LOW?

The 2018/19 Triad season saw electricity demand fall to a new all-time low. Peak electricity demand for the three half hour periods averaged 45.6 GW, with the third Triad occurring as demand was just 45.0 GW.

By comparison in 2017/18 average demand for the Triads was 47.5 GW. Maximum Triad demand has fallen by over 11 GW (~20%) in the last ten years. This reflects an overall trend towards lower electricity consumption. Major advances in technology and energy efficiency for appliances, as well as a move to smarter lighting are contributing to sustained year-on-year demand reduction.

EIC historic Triad demand graph

This trend provides an opportunity for an even lower Triad figure this year. Weekly peak power demand during 2019 has so far been lower than its equivalent week from 2018 on two-thirds of occasions.

EIC power demand Triad graph

Greater role for wind

Another factor contributing to the decline in demand is the increase in installed wind capacity over the past decade and the increasing share of the fuel mix secured by renewable generation. The latest BEIS figures from Q2 2019 showed renewables capacity rising 8% year-on-year, with its share of the fuel mix reaching new highs of 35.5%.

Most of this capacity is connected to the Grid so does not impact demand. However, around 6 GW (~30%) of wind capacity is embedded – it is connected to local distribution networks. As a result, it can influence outturn demand. Each MW of embedded wind generation is a MW of demand which otherwise would need to be provided by the transmission network. Therefore on days of high wind generation there may be a reduction in demand, triggered by the extra embedded wind levels. Average embedded wind output has increased by more than 1 GW over the past 10 years, contributing to the steady trend in demand reduction.

Last year the level of embedded wind generation varied by 3 GW, depending on nationwide wind conditions. This led to a demand swing of the same amount. This is having a growing influence on Triad forecasting as the increasing demand swing reduces the risk of a Triad occurring on days with high wind output. As a consequence, Triads are more likely to occur on days of very low wind generation. This was the case last year when each Triad occurred on a day with less than 1 GW of embedded wind generation.

HOW MANY MORE TRIADS?

The success of Triad avoidance in reducing costs for the end user has forced regulator Ofgem to undertake a change to the charging methodology for distribution costs. A consultation launched in December 2018 proposed changes which could remove the incentive for Triad Avoidance.

The Targeted Charging Review aims to introduce a charge that Ofgem considers is fair to all consumers and not just those able to reduce consumption during peak periods. Under current proposals, Triads would change to a fixed or agreed capacity, eliminating the need for avoidance in the future. Ofgem originally nominated a deadline for the reforms for April 2020. However, a recently released updated timeline has indicated that the regulator is now aiming for an implementation date of April 2023. As a result, it is possible that there will be a maximum of four winters remaining available for Triad forecasting, including the upcoming season. The removal of the Triad scheme will increase costs for business that currently benefit from Triad avoidance.

EIC TRACK RECORD OF SUCCESS

EIC has an in-house model which has successfully forecast every triad period for the last seven years. We provide clients with comprehensive alerts advising when a Triad is forecast, so they can reduce consumption accordingly.

Our Triad Alert Service forecasts the likelihood of any particular day being a Triad and sends alerts before 10am. This allows businesses to take informed action to avoid high usage during these half-hour periods. It also minimises disruption to their everyday activity. We monitor the market throughout the day and in the event of significant change will send out another alert in the afternoon. The daily report includes foresight of the next 14 days alongside a long-term winter outlook allowing clients to plan ahead.

Calling an alert every weekday would generate a 100% success rate, however we recognise the negative impact this could have on our clients. Organisations would incur major damage to revenues if required to turn down their production each day for 4 months ‘just in case”. At EIC our aim is to provide as few alerts as possible.

Last year we successfully predicted all three half-hour periods. The only tracked TPI or supplier which issued fewer alerts than EIC failed to predict all of the Triad periods.

HOW WE CAN HELP

We have helped hundreds of clients avoid these transmission costs by providing them with the tools needed, giving EIC an enviable track record in Triad prediction.

For those that took action last year, demand was cut by an average of 41% compared to standard winter peak-period half-hour consumption.

This resulted in significant cost savings, with clients who responded to our Triad Alerts saving on average £180,000. The best result last winter saw a client saving just shy of £1 million in TNUoS charges.

The Triad season begins on 1 November. To find out more about our Triad Alert service click here or call 01527 511 757.