UK’s Big Industry Plays a More Active Role on the Grid

Open Energi is helping big industry players to adopt a smarter approach to energy management and save costs.
Published: Tue 29 Mar 2016

The UK’s power grid is buckling under escalating pressure as it is forced to respond efficiently to spikes in a growing power demand. The integration of renewables on to the network only adds to the level of fluctuation in generation. A rapid response to these spikes is crucial if Britain wants to provide a reliable source of power.

One way in which to do this is demand side response (DSR). National Grid has pinpointed it as a key solution to manage fluctuations and future-proof the UK’s electricity grid. In fact, National Grid has announced plans to invest up to £400 million a year to meet between 30 to 50% of grid balancing requirements from the demand side by 2020 through its Power Responsive campaign. [Internet of Things Is Faster Than Power Stations.]

Helping big industries to reduce costs

DSR company, Open Energi, has recognised the need for smarter energy management specifically in the big industry sector which is also struggling to keep up with escalating energy bills.

The firm has just announced its partnership with Hanson UK, one of Britain’s largest suppliers of heavy building materials to the construction industry.

The two businesses are working together to install Open Energi’s Dynamic Demand technology at 29 sites across the UK, delivering around 2MW of flexible capacity to National Grid. To date, Hanson UK has already installed the technology at 14 sites across the UK, and is targeting a total of 29 sites through a phased rollout. Bitumen tanks and pumps used to dewater quarries are being fitted with Dynamic Demand, enabling them to intelligently shift their demand for energy in real-time, reducing their consumption when UK electricity demand exceeds supply and increasing consumption when electricity supply exceeds demand. This flexible demand helps National Grid to manage the system and supports the integration of more variable power sources such as wind and solar.

The technology has no impact on equipment performance, and in return, Hanson UK is paid for providing this service which offers a cleaner, cheaper and smarter approach to grid balancing than peaking power stations. In addition, Dynamic Demand provides sub-second metering data on equipment performance, providing new insight to drive operational efficiencies.

Open Energi’s customised portal enables Hanson UK to monitor, manage and compare the performance of sites and assets, helping the company to pick up on maintenance issues, identify energy cost reductions and optimise site resources.

David Weeks, PR & Communications Director, Hanson UK said “Our vision is to be recognised as a leading force in the delivery of a low carbon built environment. Adopting Dynamic Demand is an important part of our drive to embed energy improvements across the business and is helping to build the smarter, more responsive energy system the UK needs to support our transition to a low carbon economy.”

Building a smarter, more responsive system

Open Energi has also partnered with Tarmac, a UK building materials and sustainable construction solutions company. They have been working with the company to harness flexible energy demand from the grid using Tarmac’s equipment. The partnership was established to install its Dynamic Demand technology on over 200 bitumen tanks at its 70 asphalt plants across the UK. The aim? To build a smarter, more responsive system which supports renewables and the wider UK transition to a zero carbon economy. [Open Energi Helps UK’s National Grid  To Balance  Supply and Demand.]

The most recent partnership is with Ross & Catherall, part of the Doncasters Group and a world leading manufacturer and supplier of metal bar stock. Open Energi is working with Ross & Catherall to install DSR technology on to its mould ovens turning them into smart devices. The technology will automatically ramp up or decrease energy usage to help National Grid balance the UK’s electricity network. The ovens are heated to 450 degrees Celsius so short-term switches have zero impact on temperature or the quality of production.

Dave Gartside, E&HS Manager explained: “The technology integrates with our ovens controls and if there’s a sudden surge in demand, say we’ve all switched our kettles on at half-time during the football, it will ask the ovens if it can turn them off for a few minutes. Our ovens are heated to 450 degrees Celsius so short-term switches like this have no impact on their temperature or the quality of our end-product. Most importantly the ovens are in control; if they’re able to switch they will and if they’re not they won’t.”

This installation forms part of a drive by Ross & Catherall to identify energy efficiencies and reduce costs. The revenue from the service is being used to finance a 500kw rooftop solar array, enough to meet almost 5% of the company’s energy needs. Says Mr Gartside: “Energy is the biggest cost for our business so we’re constantly looking for innovative approaches that can help us save money and increase our competitiveness. Dynamic Demand is a completely new twist which is helping us make money from our cost base. We’re starting with our ovens but plan to extend the service to our furnaces in the future.”

DR is a gamechanger in energy management

DR in the commercial and industrial sector has matured in recent years and in some electricity markets, it is quickly becoming a resource equivalent to generation. 

The changing resource mix in electric grids globally is creating more opportunities for DR to play a major role in balancing loads and ensuring a reliable supply of electricity, particularly during periods of  peak demand.  

According to Navigant Research, the number of worldwide commercial and industrial DR sites is expected to grow from 92,000 in 2014 to more than 1 million in 2023. Revenue is expected to total more than $38 billion from 2014 through 2023.

Says Chris Kimmett, Commercial Manager at Open Energi : “Demand response is a game-changing evolution in the way we manage energy which gives businesses the insight and control they need to decide how, when and from where they consume their energy.”

Further reading

Navigant Research- The Number of Commercial and Industrial Demand Response Sites is Expected to Surpass 1 Million by 2023