smart home and finger hero

Smart systems and demand

For the past decade, a major focus of our work at Sustainability First has been on the GB energy demand-side. We see this as a basic building block for a more sustainable energy future. Our initial interest led to pioneering work with a strong consumer focus on household smart meters and household tariffs, on the vulnerable and fuel-poor, on energy efficiency, and on energy demand reduction.

In 2010, our thinking turned more explicitly to the GB electricity demand-side: in particular, to the economic, commercial, policy, regulatory and customer and consumer aspects. At the time, these issues stood out as being poorly understood and in need of practical analysis and solutions, for the energy system to modernise and to decarbonise in an affordable way, while retaining supply security. This thinking led to our ground-breaking multi-party three-year project on the GB Electricity Demand-Side, co-ordinated through our Smart Demand Forum. The project completed in late 2014. More about the project - 'GB Electricity Demand - realising the resource' and the thirteen published project papers can be found here.

Sustainability First’s active interest in customers and consumers and in efficient ways to unlock the GB electricity demand-side - including through 'smart' innovation - continues as a central driver for much of our project work. This includes our collaborations with:

  • Northern Powergrid on their four-year Customer-Led Network Revolution project.

  • Tempus Energy and their partners on their two-year Innovate UK project: ‘The Global Electricity Revolution for Consumers’. - Read interim paper 'The Global Electricity Revolution for Consumers', published June 2016 here.

  • National Grid on the set-up of their major electricity demand-side awareness-raising campaign, Power Responsive. Sustainability First continues to provide support for this work through providing secretariat services to the high-level Power Responsive steering group.

  • Frontier Economics who led the work on an important paper for DECC on the ‘Future Potential for DSR in GB’ (published October 2015). Read here.

  • A Sustainability First discussion paper by Jon Bird: ‘Smarter, Fairer? A discussion paper on cost-reflectivity and socialisation of costs in domestic electricity prices’ Read here.

  • TEDDINET and CSE on an academic 'research challenge' about smart meter data and public interest issues.  Read here.

Sustainability First is proud to bring significant practical insight and new thinking to the GB policies and measures needed to develop a smart sustainable energy demand-side.

Power Responsive


Sustainability First is collaborating with National Grid on a major programme of work to promote participation of demand side flexibility (DSF) in the GB electricity system. This means that customers and generators increase, decrease or shift their electricity demand at certain times or in response to requests, to help with overall management of the system. They are rewarded for offering these services. DSF reduces system costs and the need for peaking plant. The programme has involved raising awareness of the opportunities and challenges for customers to respond flexibly, helping develop the market by overcoming barriers and improving understanding of the contribution DSF makes today - through the development of an Annual Report and metrics. Sustainability First provides strategic advice and supports programme delivery including the high-level Power Responsive steering group.

Project Partners

National Grid