Thursday, January 12, 2006

GridwiseTM, Demand Side Management- The key to future energy systems.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has announced research into an advanced demand side management system know as GridWised (TM). This system will utilise the internet to dynamically controll power consumption at enabled households by shutting down base-load such as water heaters and refrigirators, for brief peak periods. Usually power grids are hugely overspecified for normal usage just so they can cope with peaks, such as when a popular tv event breaks for adverts and everyone putts on the kettle. Removing some of this redundancy could save money and the environment.

"Approximately 200 homes will receive real-time price information through a broadband Internet connection and automated equipment that will adjust energy use based on price. In addition, some customers will have computer chips embedded in their dryers and water heaters that can sense when the power transmission system is under stress and automatically turn off certain functions briefly until the grid can be stabilized by power operators."
There are two distinct parts to this project, optional power reduction by consumers to save money and automated power off for heating/cooling devices over short periods of time.

"In the pricing study, automated controls will adjust appliances and thermostats based on predetermined instructions from homeowners. The volunteers can choose to curtail or reduce energy use when prices are higher. At any point, homeowners have the ability to override even their preprogrammed preferences to achieve maximum comfort and convenience."
The economic and environmental benefits of this approach could be sizeable but future innovations including integrated micro-renewable generation, batteries as an added buffer are also likely to dramatically increase the affordable level of intermitant renewables in the system.

An earlier PNNL study shows that creating a smarter grid through information technology could save $80 billion over 20 years nationally by offsetting costs of building new electric infrastructure – the generators, transmission lines and substations that will be required to meet estimated load growth.
For more on distributed energy systems have a look at my previous article here.


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