What is EQUINOX?
EQUINOX is an innovative heat pump trial supported by Ofgem and funded through the regulator’s Network Innovation Competition (NIC). The trial will test new billing schemes to reward households for temporarily altering their heating choices without compromising on comfort. EQUINOX saves consumers money by lowering energy bills and mitigating costly system upgrades, while contributing to a more resilient and equitable low-carbon energy system.
What are the current heat pump trials?
EQUINOX (Equitable Novel Flexibility Exchange) is the first project funded by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition (NIC) to address the challenges facing distribution network operators with domestic heat pump flexibility. Sero is working with National Grid (Electricity distribution) and other partners on the project – more information on the heat pump trial can be found here. If we meet UK targets of 600,000 heat pump installations per year by 2028, the network may require significant reinforcement to manage the increased demand. EQUINOX is trialing how homes can be part of the solution, by reducing or shifting electricity demand during peak times. EQUINOX will trial how we can leverage flexibility from heat, whilst maintaining comfort for customers and network reliability.
The current trial requires that heat pumps are turned off during EQUINOX events, which happen 2 – 3 times per week between the hours of 5 – 7 pm. Sero uses their in-house automated platform to remotely turn off customers’ heat pumps, meaning the customer doesn’t have to. This is enabled by having the Sero Building Energy Engine (BEE) controlling the homes, with a cloud service that responds to signals from National Grid Electricity Distribution. Customers are free to opt-out, before or during an EQUINOX event or leave the trial completely at any time. Customers will be rewarded for their participation either through advance payment or per event, with the amounts expected to be in the region of £100 per customer by the end of the winter period.
Where have the heat pump trials taken place?
Sero customers at the Aspen Grove (Former Eastern High School) development, built by Wates in partnership with Cardiff Council (as part of the Cardiff Living Partnership) are taking part in EQUINOX this winter. These EPC A zero carbon ready homes have batteries, solar panels and ground source heat pumps, along with fabric enhancements that on their own provide 17% improvement on current Building Regulations.
What have the heat pump results been?
The first three events successfully took place in December 2022. The first two events coincided with unseasonably cold weather, with the average outside temperature on the 13th and 15th of December being 0.2°C and -1.5°C respectively. Across all three events, of those who completed the post-event survey, 44% of participants reported no change in comfort levels, 6% reported a mild change to their comfort and 44% reported a moderate change. However, when using data collected from the Sero BEE, turning off the heat pump during EQUINOX events has demonstrated the excellent insulating properties of these homes. With an outdoor temperature of around 0°C, the indoor temperature only dropped by around 0.25°C during the 2-hour event period. When there was an outdoor temperature of around 10°C, the homes showed no reduction in indoor temperature. The early results indicate that homes with heat pumps can provide flexibility to the local network without a significant impact on comfort levels – even during extremely cold weather. The trial is ongoing and is expected to conclude in March 2023. Visit the National Grid EQUINOX webpage to find out more about the trials.
Want to know more about Sero?
Founded in 2017, we’re headquartered in Cardiff with a team spread across the UK. Our approach embeds leading UK expertise into a technology-supported delivery model, meaning we can scale to deliver the greatest impact. Since our founding, we’ve led some of the UK’s leading Net Zero schemes and continue to conduct research into ways of going faster and improving outcomes. Find out more about what we do and say firstname.lastname@example.org