New Book: Peak Energy Demand and Demand Side Response

J-Torriti-book-coverExcessive peaks in electricity demand bring about significantly negative environmental and economic impacts. This is because if a vast number of users is consuming electricity at the same time, energy suppliers have to activate dirty old power plants with higher greenhouse gas emissions and higher system costs.

Like other challenges, peak demand also offers opportunities. The book 'Peak Energy Demand and Demand Side Response' (Routledge) by Dr Jacopo Torriti (Associate Professor, School of the Built Environment, University of Reading) investigates Demand Side Response (DSR) measures that policy-makers, utilities and consumers can undertake to tackle peak electricity demand.

The book presents evidence on a set of DSR activities, ranging from price-based to incentive-based programmes and policies. Examples are drawn from different programmes for both residential and non-residential sectors of electricity demand, including Time of Use tariffs, Critical Peak Pricing, Automated Demand Controllers and Ancillary Services. The book also looks at the energy saving impacts of smart meters, the activities which constitute peak demand and the potential opportunities associated with European smart grids and Capacity Markets.

Key findings:

  • Whilst the volume of energy demand relates to many factors (e.g. weather, type of appliances, types of building), patterns throughout the day are a direct consequence of what people do.
  • Time use and occupancy data can be very effective at modelling residential electricity demand, especially in relation to peaks. It results that women are more 'responsible' for evening peaks than men.
  • Information about the timing of people's activities can reveal something around the flexibility of people's patterns in peak demand: (i) there is higher 'flexibility' in people living by themselves, without children; and (ii) laundry is more flexible than eating-related practices.
  • Larger and more representative sample sizes for smart metering trials have shown diminishing conservation effects. Smart meters alone only bring about conservation effects of around 3-5%
  • There are around 200 empirical studies on Time of Use tariffs, from which it can be learned that generally very limited load shifting occurs when introducing Time of Use tariffs and this form of price-based programmes does not necessarily remove or flatten peak loads.
  • Data from more than one thousand users in Northern Italy show that the introduction of Time of Use tariffs was unsuccessful at addressing peak load issues.
  • A case study assessing the impacts of automated demand side controllers shows that (i) overall energy demand increases; (ii) the automated controller balances demand and supply; and (iii) integrating the controller with a small source of renewable generation permits a reduction in operating costs and carbon emissions.
  • Analysis of hundreds of industrial and commercial sites participating in DSR based on UK ancillary services shows that factors which inhibit greater market penetration of DSR are the time afforded to the DSR provider to prepare for a response and the duration over which the service has to be provided.
  • Existing market-based ancillary services incentivise stand-by generation capacity as opposed to real turn-down DSR and load shifting.

The book 'Peak Energy Demand and Demand Side Response' is available here:

Dr Jacopo Torriti will launch his new book Peak Energy Demand and Demand Side Response (Routledge) on 17 November 2015 in central London. The event will be an opportunity to hear about recent developments in Demand Side Response practice and policy from Yoav Zingher (CEO, KiWi Power Ltd) and Samuel Balch (Head of Smart Energy Team, DECC). The event is invite only. If you are interested please contact Felipa House (

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