Skip to content




Crowdflex is a multi-year project designed to realise the potential that domestic flexibility can play in addressing decarbonisation. 

Led by ESO, Centre for Net Zero is part of the consortium delivering the project. We’re working alongside Element Energy, Octopus Energy, Ohme Technology, Scottish and Southern Energy Networks and Western Power Distribution.

As we add more renewables to the network, balancing energy supply and demand will be more difficult. Domestic flexibility, whereby consumers alter the time at which they use energy, can provide a new source of grid support.

This project is exploring how domestic flexibility can be used
in grid operations, improving coordination across the network and reducing stress on the system. Furthermore, is also helping to empower consumers to reduce their energy bills.

Three key objectives of CrowdFlex

Aligning energy system operator (ESO) and distribution network operator (DNO) requirements for domestic flexibility services. Developing commercial frameworks suitable for the statistical nature of flexibility.

Identifying the technology capability and consumer behaviour parameters to explore in a future large scale consumer trial.

Understanding how the statistical nature of flexibility can be developed into reliable modelling of domestic demand and flexibility.

Why are we interested in domestic flexibility?

A fully flexible energy system offers significant benefits. The Carbon Trust estimates that it can deliver material net savings of between £9.6 billion and £16.7 billion per annum in 2050. This cost would otherwise be passed onto consumers through their bills. The costs of balancing supply and demand are currently at an all-time high. High gas prices are driving this trend. By dispatching domestic demand passively and actively through price signals, we can reduce the overall costs of the system.


The rise of controllable low-carbon technologies (LCTs) in the home, such as electric vehicles (EVs), heat pumps and home batteries, can increase system peaks. These are the times when lots of people are using energy. However, these LCTs also offer a resource for intelligently shifting demand in households.

Our access to the Octopus Energy customer dataset means that we have a unique insight into the behaviours of consumers at a household level. Many of them are early adopters and own one or more LCTs. Analysis of the use of these technologies and what motivates people to change their typical energy use pattern can unlock domestic flexibility at scale.

Right now, domestic flexibility is largely untapped due to limited knowledge on consumer behaviour and challenges in the existing market and regulatory landscape.

The CrowdFlex project will advance our understanding of this emerging source of flexibility. It will help us explore ways to deploy domestic flexibility for the benefit of both the energy system and electricity consumers.

Dr Nina Klein
National Grid ESO


What’s the timeline for this stage of CrowdFlex?

The Alpha phase kicked off in August 2022 and will complete in February 2023. Applications for funding for the Beta phase open in March and the programme starts in Summer 2023.

What is the Centre’s specific role in CrowdFlex?

CrowdFlex’s discovery phase completed in early 2022. It is currently in Alpha phase. During this phase, Centre for Net Zero is:

Undertaking a literature review into previous domestic flexibility trials, understanding the customer attributes that most influence flexibility

Feeding into the principles around customer communications for the trial

Delivering the trials design for Crowdflex, including how the trials will run, what we will vary, and any required resources. We are additionally feeding in key learnings from our detailed analysis of the Big Dirty Turn Down

Delivering the ‘modelling’ work package, which specifies how we would want the statistical model to forecast and predict flexibility for a given event and outlines a technical implementation roadmap and resource plan. 

As we design the future energy system, CrowdFlex is seeking to answer some of the most pressing questions about its design, such as:

Testing the ability of automated low carbon technologies to participate in grid services.

Assessing whether we can intelligently run ‘turn up’ and ‘turn down’ events at key grid boundaries to avoid constraints.

Seeing if we can alter the demand flexibility service so that it becomes a first resort, rather than a last resort.