Asda to be paid by National Grid to use fridges as giant virtual battery

Asda’s fridges and freezers will soon serve as giant virtual battery packs for the UK as the supermarket signs a landmark deal with the National Grid.

The National Grid will pay Asda, the UK’s third largest supermarket, to cut power to its fridges, freezers and air conditioning units in 300 stores and 18 distribution depots to match blackouts and power surges in the UK, according to the Guardian.

Supermarket freezers are routinely turned off once a day as part of a normal defrost cycle, but new technology allows them time this to coincide with the UK’s national energy needs.

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When Asda’s fridges and freezers are turned off, around 13-megawatts of power will be freed up, enough to provide power to 8500 homes.

This is part of the National Grid’s energy capacity market scheme, which sees it pay out around £1 billion in contracts to power plants to ramp up power output and businesses to cut power consumption at ten minutes notice.

Asda is working with Flexitricity to aggregate the energy potential of its store network, creating what it describes as a virtual battery across its estate.

“Reducing energy consumption makes both environmental and business sense,” Asda’s energy manager Peter Smith said.

“While we are a large company, our individual sites are relatively small, so the (Flexitricity) model provides an innovative and collaborative way for us to manage our consumption better, reduce our carbon footprint and provide a benefit back to the National Grid. It really is a no-brainer for us.”

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4 Comments. Leave new

Why don’t Asda and all the supermarkets just do this from a responsibility point of view. Why does it need to be a “deal” where they get paid to be responsible. They should be working with initiatives because it is the right thing to do. Sounds like they were already turning off appliances anyway so now they are just doing it at a better time. So not much skin off their nose. I imagine that money could be used to invest back into further initiatives or developing greener methods.

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Philip Randles
August 12, 2019 9:25 am

Great idea hopefully the other big players will also volunteer to do the same.

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Seems like a good idea, but it is nothing like a battery – it does not store energy. It is more like a smart demand-tracking version of an Economy 7 tariff, and it amazes me that the end-user is paid to do this rather than be punitively charged at a peak rate for not doing this.

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