Companies across the UK are switching on to the innovative Demand Side Balancing Reserve (DSBR) service, which will see National Grid pay companies to use less energy at peak times. If called upon, firms signing up for the scheme will reduce their power demand or switch to their own generators between 4pm and 8pm on weekday evenings between November and February.
London Underground is one of the major UK energy users signed up for National Grid’s innovative emergency back-up scheme known as the Demand Side Balancing Reserve.
The Tube network is the biggest power consumer in London, and has the largest private power network in the country. It’s also perfectly placed to reduce its demand on National Grid supplies, as it has its own stand-alone emergency back-up supply at the Greenwich Power Station.
The historic power station, which dates back to 1906 and was originally built to provide power for London’s Tram network, is currently used exclusively as a back-up for the Tube network. If called upon, London Underground could increase its supply from Greenwich, and reduce its reliance on National Grid power.
Russell Fleetwood, Generation Manager at London Underground, explained: “Greenwich Power Station’s primary role is providing an emergency back-up power supply for London Underground. It can be used to enable the safe evacuation of passengers and staff should normal supplies be interrupted, so it needs to be 100 per cent availability at all times – even though it’s rarely used.
“Getting involved in the Demand Side Balancing Reserve scheme complements the station’s primary role. DSBR requires London Underground to guarantee a reduction in demand at times of extreme stress on the National Grid network.
“The fact that the supply from Greenwich is 100 per cent available at all times provides a secure source for National Grid to be able to call upon when they need it. Through DSBR we are able to offer a significant demand reduction of 55MW, and if we were called upon by the DSBR we can quickly respond by switching to Greenwich’s five gas turbines for the length of time required.”
It was recently announced that the power station at Greenwich was to undergo a major revamp which will see new gas engines installed. They will be 90 per cent more efficient than the old ones, as well as being cleaner and quieter. The new engines run on natural gas, create no smoke and little in the way of emissions, providing a steady source of cheap, low carbon power for London’s Tube network.
And Russell said he was delighted to be working in with partnership National Grid: “DSBR has been a positive experience for London Underground enabling us to use of an existing asset, as well as providing the company with additional revenue, and that can only be good for stakeholders and Tube users alike.”