Understanding Demand Response

It is well known that peak demands have a negative impact on energy grid capital, operational cost and environmental aspects. This is mainly due to the need of utilities to deploy additional plants to address these peak demands. DR solutions try to tackle this issue by encouraging consumers for reallocating their consumption to other moments of the day and avoid peak demands.

Demand Response: Getting 100% from Renewable Energy Sources

One of the main disadvantages of some renewable energy sources (RES) such as wind or solar, is the lack of control. Generation of these sources can’t be switch on/off at any moment and it depends on the weather. In order to take advantage of these sources, energy storage is crucial but currently the technology for storing energy is expensive and therefore, very limited for sectors like the residential.

DR is used to enable using as much RES energy as possible by consuming it when they are in peak production, avoiding their storage and corresponding cost.

Understanding Demand Response - Explanation RESPOND Project
Illustration 1: Generation vs consumption curves

Illustration 1 shows the typical energy consumption of a dwelling in a day, in blue, and the typical energy generation of a photovoltaic panel, in yellow. Optimization of DR would make the blue curve as similar as possible to the yellow curve. The result is to prioritize the use of locally generated energy, which is typically cheaper and more efficient than energy consumed from the grid.

Since generation of these RES resources are very dependent from the weather, the weather forecast is very important to know previously the exact shape of the curve. On the other hand, the consumption on each day could be different depending of the activity and the weather. Therefore, consumption prediction is also very important to decide what type of consumption must be moved and when.

Energy storage will bring more degrees of freedom to adjust consumption to generation but the investment must be in accordance to the benefits.

DR solutions benefit both energy companies and consumers but, in order to successfully implement them, user engagement is crucial. This is why, energy companies come up with different and inventive ways in order to engage users to enroll into DR programs. The cost saving offered by energy companies may not be enough for a user, so some companies are offering services and products that may be more valuable than just cash.

Demand Response Apps for Engaging Customers

Demand Response Apps are coming to consumers' smartphonesThe best part about these apps is that not only are they saving money on their energy bills, but also they appear to be enjoyable as if it were another regular gaming app. So, apps offer a more efficient and fun way to encourage customers compared with other behavioural programs that use traditional paper Home Energy Reports (HER).

Ultimately, the beauty in the use of apps for utilities is the ease of pushing important information out to customers and giving them the power to manage their usage and costs at a time that’s convenient to them. It no longer has to be during traditional office hours and calling into a call centre and they don’t have to wait until their bill arrives to determine how much a new appliance is adding to their bill. They now have the ability to monitor themselves and make adjustments if they want to reduce their consumption.

For example, free products like thermostats or detailed breakdowns of personal energy use including segregation capabilities of individual home appliances may be more attractive to some group of users. In the case of Austin Energy (a US based energy company), they also send messages, pricing signals, and a critical usage information to customers through a smart thermostat.

Smartphone penetration is escalating at a steady rate and users spend a great deal of time on these apps. Therefore, mobile energy saving apps have the potential to help utility consumers stay on top of their energy consumption. Besides, an efficient mobile strategy can help utilities work more closely with their customers when it comes to reducing grid loads, especially during peak hours