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How much could domestic demand response technologies reduce CO2 emissions?

Panel: 2. Policy: governance, design, implementation and evaluation challenges

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Eoghan McKenna, UCL Energy Institute, United Kingdom
Sarah Darby, University of Oxford (ECI), United Kingdom


It is standard government procedure to subject all policies, programmes and projects to comprehensive and proportionate assessments to promote the public interest and ensure best use of resources to secure national objectives. A key assessment criterion for energy efficiency policies is their expected impact on CO2 emissions and, accordingly, governments require environmental impact assessments to inform decisions about which policies should be supported. As electricity systems decarbonise and progress towards higher penetrations of renewable energy, however, system balancing becomes increasingly challenging and, as a result, there is increasing value in demand response. The efficiency of low-carbon systems depends not only on policies that promote demand reduction, but also those that promote demand response.

Smart appliances are, from the grid’s perspective, a means to achieve demand response and this paper is interested in the question: how much CO2 do smart appliances save, particularly in their capacity as ‘demand response technologies’? This paper aims to clarify this topic by reviewing the literature on carbon savings from smart appliances, describing a simple conceptual model that illustrates the importance of accounting for the long-run structural impact of demand response, and estimating the CO2 impact for a case-study of domestic battery systems in the Irish power system. The results indicate that the carbon impact of demand response technologies may be negligible, or even negative, unless structural change in the power system occurs, such as changes to the dispatch and commissioning of generation. This highlights the added value of the role of the demand aggregator, who acts as the necessary intermediary between the small-scale and distributed smart appliances and the electricity markets where their beneficial structural impacts can be most effectively enabled.


Download this presentation as pdf: 2-107-17_McKenna_presentation.pdf

Download this paper as pdf: 2-107-17_McKenna.pdf