With OFGEM warning that there is a one in four chance of blackouts by the winter of 2015-16, Energy Assets is rolling out innovative demand management technology that could help balance the UK’s energy supply.
The company, the UK’s leading independent Meter Asset Manager (MAM) business, says that its Z-LYNK system could ‘out-smart’ smart meters when it comes to contributing to energy security.
Alan Jones, Energy Assets’ Director of Technology and Product Development, believes that with spare energy capacity falling from 14% last year to a predicted 2% in the not-too-distant future, more effective demand management is essential.
“What demand side management does is to provide a means of immediately addressing supply and demand imbalance by switching loads quickly,” says Mr Jones. “Demand management technologies are already proven and currently control the lighting systems in the City of London and heating and cooling systems at the Barbican – this is a fully deployed and proven Smart Grid. Extending this concept of load shifting to a nationwide basis could be central in balancing supply with demand, but at a fraction of the investment earmarked for smart metering.”
Such technology, if applied across the electrical supply network and controlled with state-of-the art software, would be able to handle many millions of loads simultaneously, meaning that street lighting can be dimmed or turned off when not needed, refrigeration and heating units turned off for small periods of time without any negative impact and office complex interior lighting systems automatically switched off overnight.
Energy Assets has targeted the industrial and commercial sector, which is responsible for around 40% of the nation’s energy consumption, as the biggest available ‘sweet spot’ for demand management.
Comments Mr Jones: “The bottom line is that there is probably little scope to use domestic loads to shift significant level of demand, but business and public sector organisations are likely to be alive to the cost and carbon reduction benefits that can be delivered.”
The control systems required for load management technologies are delivered using power line communication, but with a unique characteristic that achieves complete propagation of the network, meaning data can be sent simultaneously to any number of switchable devices. This is the principle of the Energy Assets Z-LYNK technology currently used to control heating and hot water heating in blocks of flats in London and to manage the lighting around the City’s iconic buildings.
“Z-LYNK enables even relatively small amounts of energy to be aggregated, enabling better management of peak demand. This will not only help maintain a position where the lights stay on, it will also become a net contributor to a low carbon future – a positive proposition given the public’s general enthusiasm for a greener way of living.”