Manufacturing sites, hospitals and retail stores all have the potential to provide 10 times more electricity supply — or the equivalent of six new power stations
Up to six per cent of Britain's peak electricity requirement, or 9.8 gigawatts, could be met by businesses better managing their electricity demand and onsite generation, according to a new report from the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE).
This has the potential to save UK consumers £600m by 2020, rising to £2.3bn by 2035, it added. Demand-side responses could also cut emissions and helps the UK meet its carbon targets.
Britain is at risk of blackouts during future winters due to the increasingly thin cushion between spare power generating capacity and demand, as its ageing energy infrastructure isn't being adequately replaced.
The intermittency of renewable energy sources is another headache for policymakers charged with keeping the lights on.
Tim Rotheray, a director at ADE, said: "If we are to meet this challenge successfully, we need to access that enormous resource that energy users can provide."
Cathy McClay, head of commercial operations at National Grid, said: "National Grid is actively working on how we as an electricity industry can enable increased participation of a range of flexibility sources in our markets."