UK utility tests DR to target growing energy demand peaks

Some British businesses will soon be able to automatically reduce or shift their energy use during times of high demand, under an automated demand response (DR) pilot project being developed for Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) with the help of Honeywell.

The DR pilot will be the first of its kind for commercial and industrial facilities in Europe.

While meeting overall electricity needs isn’t typically an issue in the UK and Europe, utilities are seeing peak demand levels quickly rising. This can stress grid capacity and create the potential for outages. Demand response is considered one way to help manage those peaks without having to improve or build new infrastructure, which can be both costly and disruptive.

SSE plans to use the pilot to develop a long-term strategy for auto DR. The project is being supported by the Low Carbon Network Fund, established by UK energy regulator Ofgem to promote low-carbon technologies.

“SSE’s core purpose is to provide the energy people need in a reliable and sustainable way,” said Stewart Reid, future networks and policy manager for the utility. “Automated demand response is one of a portfolio of tools to make sure we do that … ”

As part of the pilot, Honeywell will use several technologies to connect SSE with commercial and industrial buildings on the utility’s Bracknell network in southern England. A Demand Response Automation Server (DRAS) from Akuacom will allow the utility to alert customers when energy use is expected to peak and create grid congestion. A Tridium controller at each facility will help automate load-shedding strategies during these alert times. The controller makes short-term changes — turning off banks of lights, cycling equipment on and off, etc. — based on parameters the customer sets in advance.

Honeywell will also provide consulting and engineering services to help customers develop shed strategies that briefly reduce energy use with minimal impact to operations. The company will also look for opportunities to decrease day-to-day consumption, which will help businesses cut both operating costs and environmental impact to comply with Carbon Reduction Commitment legislation.

“Reducing peak demand and increasing efficiency are some of the greenest and cleanest options when it comes to energy,” said Paul Orzeske, president of Honeywell Building Solutions.

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