Enel X proves demand response is reliable during lockdown, looks to future of customer flexibility
With lower electricity demands due to lockdown, grid system operators might naturally be concerned about maintaining stability in these unfamiliar conditions.
Published on Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Electricity consumption in Ireland has fallen 10-12% over the lockdown period, whereas in the North of Ireland and Britain the drop has been even higher – up to 20%. According to Irish system operator EirGrid, the concentration of high-tech firms like data centers has had a mitigating effect on demand in the region.
To exacerbate the grid-balancing challenge over the lockdown period, there have been record-breaking weather patterns ideal for solar and wind renewable energy generation. When renewables’ share of overall generation is very high, the grid is more volatile and becomes even more difficult to manage.
One of the technologies that grid operators call on to help manage exceptional grid events is demand response (DR). DR relies on major energy users modulating their demand at relatively short notice to help maintain grid system stability.
On 12 May, EirGrid executed a DR test event requesting a total of 115MW from Enel X. Our portfolio delivered 107MW, a 98.5% performance. This capacity was provided by 38 of Enel X’s Irish customers across 52 sites.
This result demonstrates that demand response continues to be a reliable solution for grid stability – even during exceptional circumstances. DR reliability will become even more important in the future as decarbonisation efforts lead to increased electrification across heating and transport, with potentially less predictable demand.
Meanwhile the need for of DR grows: balancing the grid is set to become even more challenging as countries increase renewables in an effort to reach net zero targets. In fact, National Grid, the electricity system operator for GB, sees today’s unprecedented demand patterns as helping them to prepare for situations that could become normal in the future.
We will continue to actively work with our customers and adapt their changing operational profiles for successful DR participation. This is part of our standard demand response aggregation service, benefitting grid operators that would otherwise have to work with individual businesses’ unique DR participation plans.
Demand response participation also brings benefits to C&I businesses. As well as unlocking new revenue streams by using their assets to deliver grid flexibility, our customers invariably improve efficiency, operational resilience and their preparedness to innovate.
Thanks to our customers for their diligence in this test and for supporting grid stability and decarbonisation through demand response, and to our 24x7 real-time network operations team who were involved in delivering a flawless event during such a difficult and unprecedented period.