The Living Grid

The Living Grid is a movement of large energy users and smart technology providers who are working together to actively shape the UK energy system by driving up productivity and renewable energy use.

Through smart solutions that optimise electricity usage by appliances to level out peaks and troughs in grid supply – consuming more when there is surplus, and less when consumer demand is high – they are making our static network more interactive, adaptive and better able to handle renewable energy.

Convened by leading sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future, the LIving Grid movement aims to tell the story of how big energy users, by taking control of how and when they consume electricity, could collectively shift the energy system.

Why the Living Grid?

Half of the electricity generated in the UK is used by businesses and organisations, in offices, factories and public buildings. Yet despite their economic might, these energy customers have traditionally had little influence on how their power is generated and able to do little more than haggle down unit prices.

But with the UK energy system changing faster than at any time since the Industrial Revolution, this narrative is changing. Nearly one million renewable projects are now generating electricity more cheaply than if fossil fuels were being used. Commercial energy users are switching to renewable supply contracts. And the digital technology dash is opening up smart energy control to every user. A new system dawns, offering new opportunities and options.

Members of the Living Grid, including Sainsbury’s, M&S, United Utilities, and Tarmac, are already benefiting from these opportunities. Using smart technology from providers such as Open Energi and Smartest Energy, they are creating a system of connected equipment – from fridges and furnaces to batteries and heaters – that operate much like a natural ecosystem, consuming and storing energy flexibly, in time with ebbs and flows in electricity supply from renewable sources.

According to the IEA, 11 billion internet connected energy using devices could be providing 185GW of flexibility (saving 270 billion USD) globally by 2040. By pooling efforts through the Living Grid movement, we’re aiming to further accelerate the rise of renewables, increase demand flexibility, and increase the productivity of our energy system – and we’re calling on more organisations to join in.

What we are doing

Together, we are building a compelling story for how everyone benefits when energy users become part of an active energy ecosystem with demand flexibility, storage and on-site renewables.

Our corporate members like M&S and Tarmac are showcasing what’s possible right now with smart energy solutions working together in their facilities. By consuming energy flexibly, they are optimising electricity consumption, reducing energy bills, and – by selling the freed capacity back to the grid in times of peak demand – are making money as a result.

Through our pooled experience, we are helping to nurture the policies, markets and know-how needed to grow the number of energy users actively participating in the energy system.

Members of the Living Grid

The Living Grid movement comprises pioneering organisations, businesses and smart solution providers who share a vision of a responsive, flexible and adaptable electricity grid that’s ready for the ebbs and flows of large-scale renewable energy sources. These organisations include:

Get involved

To find out more about the Living Grid and how your organisation can play an active role in – and benefit from – shaping the UK energy system, please get in touch.

Will Dawson: w.dawson@forumforthefuture.org