Creativity and collaboration can be a win-win for consumers and the environment

27 January 2023

Over the last few days, the National Grid’s pilot Demand Flexibility Service has been making the news across the water.

The scheme gives discounts to people who have signed up when they reduce their energy consumption at certain times, for example such as putting their washing machine or dishwasher on earlier or later than they typically would.

According to National Grid's electricity system operator, more than a million households and businesses in England, Scotland and Wales who use a smart meter have signed up to take part.

Interestingly, as well as having the opportunity to save money on their bills, people were also joining a national effort to reduce their energy consumption by undertaking other outdoor activities with family and friends as part of the campaign.

We know that meeting our net zero targets will require a complete transformation in our energy system, and here in Northern Ireland the significant progress we’ve made so far is genuinely world-leading. For example, last year our energy system was the first in the world to have 75% of electricity flowing through our grid at any point in time coming from variable renewable sources.

But in addition to this transformation, the evidence tells us that we, as consumers, will have to change our behaviours by reducing our own energy consumption over time.

The experience in other areas of society tells us that thinking creatively can help us along that journey. For example, many insurance companies are now offering discounted rates for customers who use activity watches. Many countries around the world have successfully introduced bottle return schemes to boost recycling habits.

Whilst we in Northern Ireland can’t replicate the National Grid’s scheme exactly because our system is a little different, we can put our heads together and come up with new, innovative and creative ways of encouraging each of us to think about our own role in this global effort to tackle climate change.