Sainsbury’s supermarket group, United Utilities – the water company for north-west England – and quarry operators Aggregate Industries have announced the launch of an innovative real-time energy management scheme called the Living Grid. The three founding partners say the scheme will provide up to 39 megawatts of flexible power, saving almost 90,000 tonnes of carbon annually in the UK by 2020.

Brought together by sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future, the Living Grid aims to realise a radically new energy ecosystem that’s inspired by nature. It will start by connecting large corporate energy users’ equipment with smart technology powered by founding tech partner Open Energi.

“Intelligent demand response - which invisibly and automatically flexes electricity consumption in real-time is paving the way for a completely different electricity market. A market that doesn’t require polluting peaking power, that can integrate renewable energy efficiently and most importantly, that empowers consumers,” said David Hill, business development director of Open Energi.

Pioneers of the Living Grid are rewarded by the National Grid with an additional revenue stream that they could plough back into making their business more energy efficient, and by scaling down consumption at peak periods; they also avoid peak-time pricing, thus reducing their energy.

“Sainsbury’s is proud to join our other partners in being a pioneer of the Living Grid and to address one of the UK’s most important sustainability issues. “By joining forces with others to change how we use electricity, we’re saving extra carbon emissions for the UK and helping to make our electricity network more efficient, for the benefit of everyone in the UK,” said Paul Crewe, head of sustainability, engineering, Energy & Environment, Sainsbury’s.