SINGAPORE – In a first-of-its-kind initiative to get households to help manage the load on the electricity grid, residents in homes equipped with smart meters will be called upon to adjust their electricity usage during peak demand periods.
The initiative, called Residential Demand Response (R-DR), is targeted to start by the second half of 2024 and will tentatively involve about 1,000 households that have smart electricity meters provided by utilities firm SP Group, said the Energy Market Authority (EMA) on Tuesday.
These households will receive alerts from the SP app to temporarily cut down or defer their electricity usage during demand peaks in the power system.
Once alerted, residents can postpone usage of high energy-consuming appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers, or adjust the temperature of their air-conditioner, or turn it off.
Demand peaks in the power system refer to peaks in electricity consumption by consumers, which tend to occur in the hotter months of the year and in the afternoons, when commercial and industrial activities are running at full speed.
For example, there was an 8 per cent increase in peak electricity demand from 7.3 gigawatts (GW) in February 2023 to 7.9GW in May 2023, when it was hotter. On May 13, the temperature in Ang Mo Kio hit 37 deg C, a level not seen in Singapore since 1983.
Households contribute to about 15 per cent of Singapore’s total electricity consumption.
Electricity demand and supply must be managed because if many consumers are using electricity at the same time, there is less supply and prices typically go up. Peak periods can also strain the systems that deliver power.
Households that reduce their energy usage when alerted will receive financial incentives.
While the initiative is planned to run for six months, other details such as the type of incentive will be revealed later as SP and EMA are finalising the programme.
Announcing the R-DR pilot at the Asia Clean Energy Summit on Tuesday, Manpower Minister and Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng said consumers have a role to play in ensuring the grid remains resilient.
He added that the importance of demand management is often overlooked when it comes to energy security.
EMA chief executive Ngiam Shih Chun said: “Consumers can play an important role in saving energy by reducing their usage, which can help reduce carbon emissions from the power system.”
EMA noted that the power system’s peak demand is forecast to rise every year over the next five years.
The initiative helps to keep the power system running smoothly and more efficiently by working on both the demand and supply sides of the system, the agency added.