Grid management techniques that are proving vital to high-energy users

A recent report from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has shown that moving to a more flexible and efficient system of demand management could save bill payers up to £8bn a year by 2030.

 

If your company purchases electricity via a half hourly meter then there are some clever ways you can save on your energy spending without having to invest in expensive technology. We explain the best way to manage Triads and Frequency Response so your business can reduce its current energy spending, earn additional revenue and provide essential standby power during blackouts.

 

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National Grid introduced a system in the 90s to encourage large energy-users to reduce their demand during peak times over the winter. The three half hours of the highest demand on electricity transmission between November and February are called Triads and ‘capacity charges’ are calculated according to demand. The charge ranges from £16 to £39 per kilowatt depending on location.

 

These Triad periods are not known in advance so in order to avoid expensive charges the customers must avoid all potential peaks. This smoothens out our electricity demand and helps to keep the network running efficiently.

 

Unlike domestic electricity rates, which are based on energy consumption between 4pm and 7pm every day, those on a half hourly rate have the opportunity to reduce their bills by switching off plant during peaks when it may fall into an expensive Triad.

 

For some businesses, however, it is not practical to simply switch off plant during the winter peak times. This is where a battery has the potential to prove extremely valuable, providing power to the user during expensive winter peak times. The battery system uses a frequency auto-tracking monitoring unit that responds to frequency variations in the grid, either drawing or exporting power.

 

The ability to export power back to the grid is another attractive feature because your business can not only making savings by avoiding hefty charges for consuming power during Triads but can also export power to the grid during these periods to earn additional revenue.

 

In addition to the Triads, National Grid will pay energy providers for power to balance variation in the grid supply under a scheme called Frequency Response. How quickly you can provide this power to the grid determines how much you will be paid.

 

The services are divided into four stages – continual service, primary response, secondary response and reserve. To fall into the primary response category, which receives the highest payment, you must be able to provide power within 10 to 30 seconds; a response time that can be met using a battery solution. The secondary response time is up to 30 minutes. This can be met using hydropower and diesel generators. Fast-acting plants can meet the final reserve category of 30+ minutes.

 

National Grid uses Frequency Response to balance grid variation. The demand for this service is only going to increase as 7GW of coal generation is removed this year and a further 12GW by 2025.

 

The revenue that can be earned from these grid management services is so significant that installers can currently offer a free installation service for the battery. This means that if you do not have the capital to invest in a battery outright then you can benefit from a free installation service and still receive an agreed annual income. Furthermore, the battery unit can be used for backup power, switching on in less than 100 milliseconds to provide seamless cover to your business. This will become a hugely valuable service as we face uncertainty over future grid stability.

 

The National Infrastructure Commission aren’t the only ones to recognise the benefits and urgency for these grid management techniques; a report from Energy UK that interviewed experts from throughout the industry paints a similar picture. Lawrence Slade, CEO of Energy UK, said in a recent interview with Carbon Brief that “our energy sector is undergoing a revolution which the government, the media and the wider public need to catch up with.” A combination of batteries and advanced monitoring software will undoubtedly play a viral role in this energy revolution.

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