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Dynamic Demand Management

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 16-Sep-08 05:23:22 PM

"I want to tell you about something that works - works 100%. You can be sure, when you adopt what I'm going to tell you, it will work."

That was Terry Wyatt's confident opening line in his address to this year's CIBSE/ASHRAE Conference back in April.

Terry is a consultant at Hoare Lea Consulting Engineers and past president of CIBSE (Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers); a title lending him the gravitas to make such a confident claim.

He thinks, by employing 'dynamic demand management' throughout our electricity grid (can also apply to gas and water too), we could quickly - and cheaply - meet the EU's target of reducing carbon emissions by 60% before 2050... in fact, well before 2050!

Demand-side energy management

Terry believes the EU target could be achieved through continuous management of electricity consumption.

How dynamic demand management works

In practice, it works like this: when you - along with 8 million other people - switch on your kettle (during a TV ad break, for instance), your fridge might switch off temporarily, thus dampening overall demand.

Because demand can spike at any time during the day, power must always be on-hand for continuous distribution by the operator responsible for balancing the electricity network, National Grid.

Dynamic demand management technology "smooths-out" the spikes by temporarily switching in-and-out low priority appliances and/or devices automatically.

Spinning reserves

According to Mr Wyatt, UK electricity generators must maintain over 50% "standby" capacity to meet daily load patterns. This provides National Grid with 3 GW (3 billion watts) of constantly generated electricity to counter sudden surges in demand.

It is known as 'spinning reserves' and costs around £80m a year... and that doesn't include the cost of the electricity produced, which is generated at less than 10% efficiency (because power plants are most efficient when running at full throttle).

Add to that, the need to maintain all the plant required to meet both the highest peaks of winter, and lowest troughs of summer months - including the variability of UK weather patterns in each of those seasons -, and the spread between supply and demand becomes wider still. In fact, Terry calculates that the total standby capacity needed amounts to around 150% when such factors are considered.

He says by eliminating the need for spinning reserves and standby capacity, at least 8 million tonnes per year of C02 would be cut.

Smart meters

Dynamic demand management works only without human intervention, though, so he is calling for the installation of "truly" smart meters capable of managing household appliances like a conductor manages an orchestra.

The technology already exists, and thanks to companies like Enel SpA, Italy's largest utility provider, which between 2000 and 2005 installed smart meters to all its 27 million customers, the cost per unit is now only around £50 (or for electricity, gas and water combined: £100).

The roll-out is estimated to have cost Enel SpA around 2.1 billion Euros, but the technology has since slashed operational costs by 500 million Euros per year, paying for itself in just four years.

Britain's ailing power stations are already under strain: earlier this month (Sept), a series of unexpected breakdowns one morning forced National Grid to issue a power supply margin warning - known as a NISM - calling for electricity generators to provide an additional 700 MW between 10am-5pm.

A similar event back in May caused several blackouts across the country - worse was only averted thanks to a feed running from France across the Channel.

Terry Wyatt calculates that dynamic demand management can reduce or eliminate the need for more power stations - something this country desperately needs on its current decommissioning timetable, at least according to a report out this week by Fells Associates, which predicts prolonged power cuts by 2015 if we don't fill the gap fast.

Balancing the UK grid

Captured at 15:45 - Surplus capacity

Electric demand meter showing surplus generating capacity

It is possible to detect the performance of the grid from any electrical outlet, though it's not recommended you do.

Basically, all turbines across the country are synchronised to spin at the same speed (50 cycles/second, or 50 Hertz). When there is spare capacity in the system, the generators spin faster; slower when there is heavy demand.

This can be measured from any electric socket. 

It is the National Grid's job to maintain a balanced load by calling upon additional power generation should the need arise.

In the same way National Grid monitors the network, so can smart meters.

Captured at 17:45 hrs when workers return home

Electric demand meter showing a peak in demand

The Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR) is due to report on its findings into the technology shortly.

Pictures grabbed from the real time widget over at campaigning website Dynamic Demand.

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Posts: 1
Common Sense
Reply #1 on : Tue September 16, 2008, 21:35:45
Its so logical its should be rolled out immediately! Actually if you take a look at forthcoming Carbon Trading Credits and even the nature of Display Energy Certificates that those penalise buildings with inadequate metering, then actually this stuff is already coming- albeit at a slower pace than a national rollout and in an alternative solution.

There is an uneasy tension between the big 6 utility companies and the Government, saving energy potentially reduces turnover, profit and so on. No different from BP- solar panels on top of the covered forecourts but still selling fuel to the record number of vehicles on our roads.

Stuff like this shouldn't be political, its disgraceful that it took EU legislation issued in December 2002 to kickstart the rollout of an energy performance certificate environment.

I have little faith this country will get its act together, just another 'feature' of being an island and not taking on board the cross-fertilisation of new ideas from neighbouring countries on a daily basis. Pity really.

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