National Grid to use Asda fridges as virtual battery pack

Asda has signed a deal to use its fridges and freezers as a virtual energy source, helping to power the UK’s electricity system.

Under the agreement with National Grid, the supermarket chain will cut power to fridges, freezers and air conditioning units in 300 stores and 18 distribution depots to match blackouts and surges in demand, the Guardian reports.

This will free up around 13 megawatts of power, which is enough energy to provide power to about 8,500 homes.

It’s part of National Grid’s energy capacity market scheme, through which it pays out around £1bn in contracts to power plants to ramp up generation and businesses to cut their electricity use to help stabilise the network.

The company will also take part in a trial to act as a safety net if there is an unexpected power station outage, responding with only 10 minutes’ notice.

Asda can cut the electricity when needed while still keeping temperatures stable. All industrial fridges are turned off at least once a day as part of a standard defrost cycle, but new technology means that businesses can earn extra revenue by co-ordinating the downtime with the requirements of the grid, the Guardian explained.

The supermarket is working with Edinburgh-based flexible energy specialist Flexitricity to aggregate its energy potential.

Reducing energy consumption makes both environmental and business sense,” said Asda’s energy manager, Peter Smith.

While we are a large company, our individual sites are relatively small, so the [Flexitricity] model provides an innovative and collaborative way for us to manage our consumption better, reduce our carbon footprint and provide a benefit back to the National Grid. It really is a no-brainer for us.”

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