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Curbing peak demand

Honeywell wants to take the sting out of peak loads.

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Energy savings trough ADR systems would turn buildings into components of 'virtual peaker plants'.
Energy savings trough ADR systems would turn buildings into components of 'virtual peaker plants'.

Honeywell wants to convince utilities to take the sting out of peak loads with its automated demand response solution.

Peak loads have been giving utilities in the region headaches for some time. Faced with ever increasing demand for power, most governments have embarked on large scale programmes to expand generation capacity.

Yet the scorching mid-day summer heat has the embarrassing effect of showing up any lacking pace in such expansion schemes. Power outages have been a feature this summer again in several GCC countries, as capacity was outstripped by demand.

Catering for peak loads is expensive, with generation capacity having to match this temporary spike in demand.

Apart from needing a high base load generation capacity, utilities have to make use of peaker plants to ensure that supply and demand is balanced on the grid. These plants can ramp up production in a short period of time, but are less energy efficient.

Rather than focusing solely on the supply side, utilities should try and manage the demand side by curbing consumption, says Stuart Russsell, business development manager, energy, at Honeywell Buildings Solutions: “It is not necessary to find more power in the generation side, when essentially you could find that on the demand side.”

Seeing a gap in the market, Honeywell are looking to introduce their automated demand response (ADR) solution to the region. Demand response programmes have been employed in the US, where an aggregator company enters into a shed agreement with a number of operators of commercial buildings.

As part of those agreements, operators will abstain from any non-essential energy use during peak hours. In a liberalised energy market, the aggregator sells back the surplus energy back to the utilities at spot prices, making a profit in the process.

Because there is no energy market in the Middle East, where highly subsidised power is distributed by government-owned utilities, the model for demand response programmes would have to be different. Russell says that Honeywell would play the role of the intermediary company. The company would then apply their ADR technology to the building, so that power consuming devices can be shut down during peak hours without noticeable effect.

“The concept of Honeywell’s automated response is that we basically provide a virtual peaker plant,” he says.

Honeywell will officially be launching their ADR solution at the Smart Electricity World Conference, held in Dubai on November 8-10. The aim is to convince some of the utilities to start a pilot project for government buildings.

“If we started some pilot programmes for government buildings, we would be able to create virtual power plants for the utilities in a relatively fast timeframe. We could, for example, save 200MW in six months.”

And how are Honeywell looking to expand beyond government buildings? If the current scenario of subsidised power in a regulated market persists, Russell believes it is time to push for favourable legislation.

“If we remain in this scenario where we have subsidised power and single tariff rates, we would like to then propose some form of legislation that looks at commercial buildings needing to have a shed strategy, and allow the utility to enable controlled shedding during peak periods.”

While the introduction of legislation calling for reduced energy consumption is a contentious issue, and may not be rolled out across the region in the near future, Russell is optimistic that Honeywell’s ADR will be well received: “I have no doubt that there will be a utility that sees the value in what we do, and have no doubt that we will deliver value for them, which will be followed up with interest from other utilities. I am confident that we will see a solid deployment of Honeywell’s ADR in 2011.”

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