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Department of Meteorology – University of Reading

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  • Understanding Peaks in Residential Electricity Demand



Peak electricity demand is becoming an increasingly significant problem for UK networks. During peak demand, electricity prices in wholesale markets could fluctuate from less than €0.04/kWh to as much as €0.35/kWh. Our research investigates what constitutes peaks and identifies areas of possible demand shifting.

Normalized demand profiles (total for 100 and two examples of Low Voltage feeders) compared to the carbon intensity (CI) per kWh supplied nationally (Data sources: Papaioannou, V. et al. (in press)). 


Peak demand is the outcome of people simultaneous activities at a specific time of the day. Peak demand is not determined by individuals desire to consume energy at a given point of the day, but by the way people days are structured and coordinated, that in turn is influenced  by working schedules, family time and activities.


Comparison of total demand from 100 sub-urban Low Voltage feeders and national half-hourly carbon intensity per kWh. Demand profile for the week commencing on the 17th of November 2014 is compared to the same week number in 2015. 


The above plots have morning and evening peak periods highlighted. Evening peak period corresponds to the peak charge pricing on the stylized Time-of-Use tariffs used by Centre for Sustainable Energy investigation on impacts from Time-of-Use tariffs. As suggested by the plots Time-of-Use tariffs have the potential benefit to encourage consumers to shift activities outside peak hours. However, the impact of more cost-reflective pricing will vary between consumers. In particular, those who consume electricity at more expensive peak periods, and who are unable to change their consumption patterns, could end up paying significantly more.


Dr Máté János Lőrincz
Tel: +44(0)118 378 6677

Dr Timur Yunusov
Tel: +44(0)118 378 6677

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