If you want to get the most out of your energy savings, you need to ensure you have the right attitude about demand response (DR).
Load Shifting is about changing energy use behavior and organizing scheduled downtime to coincide with Peak windows.
IoT devices provide sensors and internet connectivity to previously ‘dumb’ equipment, allowing for more control over, and information about, your operations.
Behind-the-meter generation refers to generators, batteries, or off-grid generation sources that can provide more flexibility and resilience.
HVAC systems can be optimized to more efficiently respond to weather events.
Electric vehicle fleets can be used a mobile battery capacity, charging during off-peak hours and supplying energy to your operations during on-peak hours.
Many people think that DR is not worth the hassle, that the effort spent to prepare for a ‘perfect storm’ scenario of grid overload outweighs any benefits. This kind of thinking about DR is old-fashioned because the suite of tools that energy users have at their disposal to manage their energy needs has expanded dramatically in recent years.
Suppose you’re serious about minimizing interruptions or your carbon footprint. In that case, you need to shift your view of DR from a reactive (responding to emergencies) to a proactive (seeking out opportunities) one.
Most people are familiar with the idea of curtailment (reducing your energy use when required), but DR also encompasses concepts like load shifting and company training or best practices, which help develop an energy-aware workplace culture.
Load shifting (changing when you consume energy) is an important complement to curtailment because it provides you with greater flexibility to manage workflow.
You can opt to schedule equipment maintenance during curtailment events and shift energy-intensive processes to off-peak times, helping to save money and ensure greater grid stability. Load shifting has only increased in importance as more renewable energy comes online.
It is because renewable sources like solar cause overproduction periods during the day, before tapering off rapidly later on as Peak hours begin.
This causes headaches for everyone, so a smart move is to shift energy-intensive operations to earlier in the day when prices are lower, and emissions are lower. For example, hotels and healthcare facilities can use load shifting to schedule energy-intensive work, like laundry and dishwashing, to certain times of day (say between 10am and 4pm) when rates are cheaper.
Load shifting can also be tied in with existing emission reduction efforts and be part of bolstering your company’s green credentials: load shifting can also complement existing carbon reduction plans and carbon credit programs.
Utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT) and the growing number of smart devices (e.g., Wi-Fi thermostats) can help reduce energy use. One example is smart windows to respond to internal and external temperatures, such as automatically lowering blinds to reduce heat transfer during the day when the building is exposed to the most sunlight.
Automated opening of windows can reduce air conditioning use, especially in office high rises or apartment buildings, where hot air can be channelled upwards and out, creating through currents with the creative use of responsive building management tools.
Lighting can be dimmed, and by using motion detectors and automatic switch-off procedures, businesses can ensure that the minimum amount of energy is needed. Large offices can install power banks and smart switches to ensure that electronic devices (i.e., computers and printers) employ power-saving measures and operate on standby mode.
Similarly, office amenities like drinking fountains and vending machines do not need to be powered 24/7. Switching these off after business hours helps reduce energy use.
Utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT) can help reduce energy use.
The use of automated monitoring and smart building technology can help businesses like supermarkets reduce cold storage energy. Using smart fridges prevents damaging stock or disrupting operations by taking product tolerance levels as well as business and grid circumstances into consideration and adjusting accordingly.
Universities and hospitals with large common areas like cafeterias can also benefit by reducing heating and lighting in these areas.
A further example is the growing use of water heaters – either gas or electric – by utilities as a way to store energy. Newer IoT heater models are now built with DR mechanisms already built-in, making things simple for energy users looking to upgrade/replace their existing devices to manage energy use.
Behind-the-meter generation refers to on-site generating capacity that is not connected to a wider electrical grid. Such capacity complements grid energy or acts as a gap measure during curtailment events or emergencies.
For example, operators of large residential buildings, like eco-conscious condo boards, can use DR to reduce energy waste, capitalize on green energy glut during the day, and save money – all by capitalizing on on-site solar or geothermal capacity.
Another way to reduce costs/emissions is the use of generators burning cleaner fuels (i.e., biofuels or natural gas instead of grid energy from oil or coal). This can lead to rebates for tenants and help attract environmentally-conscious prospective buyers/renters.
Summertime is when the most Demand Response events happen, as the increased heat and associated cooling contribute to spikes in energy consumption that can threaten grid stability. Optimizing HVAC systems and procedures play a big role in reducing energy use and costs.
A great example of innovative HVAC design is on display in The Well, a seven-building development in Toronto. The project includes a seven million litre well to hold a liquid solution to acts as a giant thermal battery, cooling in summer and heating in winter. The Well is charged (refilled) at night when prices and demand for cooling are lowest.
The complex is also using cold extracted from the lake drinking water to cool the buildings, reducing electricity use. A further feature is using heat pumps to extract heat from cooling water used in nearby server farms; this captured heat can then warm residences.
Electric Vehicle Fleets
The rise of electric vehicles (EV) and battery storage technology also presents energy users with more versatility; enabling the use of stored energy to fill gaps during times of max grid use. Products like the Tesla Powerwall may be catching the media’s attention, but any EV can provide energy storage.
Companies with large EV / hybrid delivery fleets can coordinate delivery schedules with grid prices to save money. If you are delivering/providing services primarily early in the day, EVs can be charged during off-peak hours and then used to supply energy to your business during peak hours.