The potential of domestic flexibility and grid management

CrowdFlex is the largest, multi-year consumer flexibility trial in the UK designed to realise its potential in addressing decarbonisation.


Scaling demand flexibility is critical to the successful integration of renewables. 500GW of renewable capacity was added to global energy systems last year; an increase of 50% compared to the year before. If we're to effectively harness the growing amount of renewable power, we need to reach 500 GW of flexibility globally by 2030 - a tenfold increase compared to today.

Finding new ways to balance supply and demand is critical to harnessing cheap and clean electricity. Grid constraints in the UK are currently costing households and businesses £1 billion each year; a figure that is set to triple by 2030. Flexibility is not optional in a future system powered by renewables - and the more demand flexibility we have, the more we can reduce system costs through less investment in grid reinforcement. The evidence base for demand flexibility is limited given its relative infancy; this trial seeks to advance understandings and utilisation of domestic flexibility in energy and grid management.

Field trial

Over the course of a two-year program of five large-scale randomised controlled trials, a consortium of industry stakeholders are determining the optimal level of incentives needed to encourage consumers to adjust their energy consumption patterns - aiding in the management of grid constraints. Centre for Net Zero is leading on trial design.

Involving 100,000 participants across multiple energy suppliers, the trials are some of the largest of their kind. Their extensive reach allows us to gather comprehensive and granular data about consumer behaviour and energy flexibility preferences.

CrowdFlex will not only provide insights into consumer behaviour but also lead to the development of pioneering models of consumer demand and flexibility, allowing for the optimisation of energy usage and grid management.


CrowdFlex will run until December 2025; full results will be shared in 2025.

This project is funded by energy network users and consumers through the Strategic Innovation Fund: a programme from the UK’s independent energy regulator Ofgem, managed in partnership with Innovate UK.

See the ESO project page here