Collaborating to shape the UK’s energy system

The challenge

Half of the electricity generated in the UK is used by businesses and organisations, in offices, factories and public buildings. Yet despite their economic might, these energy customers have traditionally had little influence on how their power is generated.

But the UK energy system is changing rapidly. Commercial energy users now have the option of renewable energy providers, which are proliferating and generating electricity more cheaply than fossil fuel sources. Digital technologies are also enabling businesses to control exactly how and when appliances consume electricity, without impacting performance. The energy narrative is changing, but needs to speed up to achieve change at scale more quickly.

Our solution

The Living Grid is a movement of large energy users and smart technology providers, convened by Forum for the Future, who are working together to actively shape the UK energy system by driving up productivity and renewable energy use.

Through smart solutions that optimise electricity usage by appliances to level out peaks and troughs in grid supply – consuming more when there is surplus, and less when consumer demand is high – they are making our static network more interactive, adaptive and better able to handle renewable energy.

According to the IEA, 11 billion internet connected energy using devices could be providing 185GW of flexibility (saving 270 billion USD) globally by 2040. Through the Living Grid movement, we aim to pool efforts to further accelerate the rise of renewables, increase demand flexibility, and increase the productivity of our energy system.

What you can do

Members of the Living Grid, including Sainsbury’s, M&S, United Utilities, Aggregate Industries and Tarmac, are  showcasing what’s possible right now with smart technology from providers such as Open Energi and Smartest Energy. By consuming energy flexibly, they are optimising electricity consumption, reducing  energy bills, and - by selling the freed capacity back to the grid in times of peak demand - are making money as a result.

Together, Sainsbury’s, United Utilities, Aggregate Industries and Tarmac can provide up to 39 megawatts of flexible power to the UK grid, saving almost 90,000 tonnes of carbon annually by 2020. The Living Grid aims to challenge members to collectively provide 200MW of flexible power for the UK by 2020, enough to power 100,000 kettles - and we’re calling for more members to join us in this challenge.

If you’re a smart energy solutions provider or a corporate energy user, we want to speak to you. Contact Will Dawson or find out more on


The Living Grid comprises pioneering, ambitious organisations that share our vision of a more decentralised, flexible and responsive electricity grid that’s ready for large-scale use of renewables. These include: