SMEs and local authorities urged to use demand-side response energy saving app


offSmart energy service provider Voltaware has developed an app that it believes can bring demand-side response (DSR) benefits to small business and local authority users.

In this sponsored post, the firm says its sub metering technology and app provides individual businesses, communities and householders with real-time alerting to DSR events to enable them to take action or even automate a response.

Time is money

Large businesses already pay for power based on the times that they use it. But time of use tariffs are being rolled out to 160,000 smaller businesses this year, and will eventually be the norm for all business and domestic users. But, given that utilities will be able to vary when off-peak, peak and super-peak tariffs actually occur, this variability may confuse customers trying to avoid punishing super-peak prices.

Why are time of use tariffs being rolled out?

The current UK energy landscape has undergone drastic changes in the past few years. Coal fired plant is closing, new gas plant has stalled and new nuclear remains a major doubt. Meanwhile growth of renewable power has created gigawatts of new generation, but it is intermittent. That is placing the power system under stress – with less conventional generation available to relieve it.

Demand-side response – asking power users to adjust power usage or switch to onsite generation in return for payments or lower power prices – is one way of meeting peak demand without the need for excess generation capacity. Broadening the baseline of participation in DSR, or balancing schemes, is therefore a key challenge for the energy sector.

National Grid has moved to scale demand response, launching the Power Responsive campaign last June in a bid to achieve 30-50% of balancing from businesses rather than power stations by 2020.

Paid to use power

As well as the more ‘traditional’ demand response services such as Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR) and STOR Runway, which aim to flatten peaks during high demand, National Grid is now also promoting Demand Turn Up services.

This service asks users to increase power usage to take excess power from renewables when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. Those that can turn up are effectively being subsidised to use power, which is worth noting given that National Grid has already indicated peak summer demand this year will be at a record low, while installed solar capacity is at a record high. By doing so, National Grid hopes to make it cheaper to balance the system, so that renewable generators do not have to be paid to curtail their output, and thermal plant does not have to be paid to stay warm, which is costly both for bill payers and the environment. Aggregator Flexitricity recently launched demand turn-up services, while Western Power Distribution is also in trials with businesses.

SMEs and local authorities

While National Grid and aggregators have tended to focus on large industrial users, they now aim to bring more businesses into DSR. With the right tools in place, SME’s, local authorities and households could also benefit from the incentives provided by the National Grid.

In 2014, the median non-domestic consumption per meter in Great Britain was 8,614 kWh, while the median domestic consumption was 3,188 kWh. SME’s and communities can come together with a combined MW reduction significant enough to act as ‘Reserve Aggregator’ for the National Grid during periods of high and low demand respectively. In practice, a minimum number of participants would need to be registered as the aggregator group; for example, a local group of SMEs or a social housing community.

The DSR app

DSR_turn_down_01Voltaware has developed an inexpensive sub-metering technology, available to end-users through an intuitive app. With this tool, aggregator communities would gain real-time insight into their kWh consumption and costs down to the appliance-level, using a technology that itemises consumption (disaggregation). Voltaware is integrating real-time DSR alerts into the app to signify the start, end and type of DSR event, thereby encouraging the right action to be taken or even automating those actions.DSR_turn_down_02Participation in a DSR event would make the aggregator communities eligible for their share of the cash incentives provided by the National Grid. The app also provides clarity over where (i.e. which appliances) are consuming energy at the time of a DSR event, as well as transparency over their tariff costs throughout the day.

Voltaware’s technology has the potential to bring SMEs and communities into balancing services much sooner, and importantly, more effectively than previously thought. It provides an exciting opportunity to earn back some money, while actively contributing the bigger picture of security of supply and decarbonisation of power at lowest cost.

Find out more, here.

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