Demand Response, Enel X’s efficient solution

The energy ecosystem is experiencing a revolution in the name of flexibility, and digitalisation is providing the key to accessing innovative new solutions

Published on 7 January 2019

Demand Response, Enel X’s efficient solution

With the market experiencing constant development and transformation, the energy ecosystem is speaking the language of digitalization, which is opening up a constant stream of new opportunities for the benefit of clients. The fight against climate change is having an increasingly profound impact on energy production and distribution methods. The goal of reducing CO2 emissions I leading a growing number of conventional generating plants to convert to renewable energy sources. This means that the old production model in which a handful of large power stations burning fossil fuels to generate electricity is transforming into a system of distributed generation in which energy consumers can also play their part. 

Renewable resources are evolving constantly, and the Transmission System Operators (TSOs) increasingly need to rely on resources that offer a certain degree of distribution flexibility. As a result, flexibility has become a valuable asset. Thanks to technological innovation, the networks are now capable of receiving data, processing information, and setting up a real-time dialogue between grid operators and energy consumers. 

Energy consumers are also evolving from passive consumers to energy producers and active, bi-directional players on the grid, enabled by new technological solutions and the companies managing these energy flows – aggregators like Enel X.

Demand Response is the best way to facilitate this period of profound transformation within the energy ecosystem.

What is Demand Response?

Demand response programs pay commercial and industrial energy consumers for reducing energy consumption temporarily when called upon. For example, an electric grid operator or utility may call on a demand response network when demand for electricity reaches abnormally high levels that exceed the electricity supply available.

Instead of calling on power generators to suddenly generate more electricity—which is expensive and requires the use of fossil fuel-dependent infrastructure—the demand response program reduces the amount of electricity needed to maintain reliable access to power across the grid. Effectively, this reduction in electricity demand provides the same relief as the injection of new electricity supply, but in a cleaner and more efficient way. 

This makes it possible to ensure the stability of the grid even when the most “energy hungry” clients like industrial facilities consume higher-than-average amounts of energy or when production (renewable energy, for example) deviates from expected patterns.

How does Demand Response work?

Let’s take a concrete example: the TSO, which monitors the state of the grid in real time, detects a stress point on the grid and asks Enel X to manage its client portfolio. The TSO says it needs, hypothetically, 20 megawatts and Enel X responds to this request by calling on its customers to enact their custom, pre-determined energy reduction or load transfer plan. This could consist of shutting down energy-intensive equipment or transferring load onto distributed generation or energy storage resources, and often involves Enel X enacting the plan for the customer remotely. For every facility, Enel X helps to determine the optimal participation to maximize both payments for the customer and the flexibility delivered to the grid. . DR, therefore, is a service based on the use of third-party modifiable resources that the TSO can rely on during the most critical periods.

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