Fall has arrived, and the shift in weather creates a variety of new energy challenges. While hurricane season and wildfire season remain, most of the country has seen the end of extreme heat, though last year saw heatwaves in California continue into September. As a result, many organizations have started looking ahead to the challenges of winter’s extreme weather.
There are some fundamental aspects that energy strategy in every season has in common—primarily, the need for energy flexibility. Flexibility can be the solution to problems at both the individual and grid level, and many utilities and grid operators reward organizations who offer flexibility.
Flexibility Comes in Many Forms
Flexibility, as a concept, is not limited to any one asset or program. It can be an overarching philosophy of energy usage.
It shows up clearly in solutions like demand response. Grid operators and utilities will pay organizations that can shift their energy usage at times when the grid is stressed. This is valuable to utilities because this flexibility and energy reduction, combined across a large number of businesses, allows them to relieve stress on the grid without the need to invest in as many new power plants—and that grid stress often comes at times of extreme seasonal weather.
A solar+storage system is a clear example of the benefits of flexibility. Energy from solar can be stored in the battery when it is abundant, and then dispatched and used when prices on the grid are expensive—batteries can even facilitate demand response participation. Responding to these price signals is not only valuable, but can also enhance grid reliability.
Optimal flexibility requires sophisticated optimization software in order to maximize savings for the system’s owner while responding to the grid’s price signals. This can ensure that the best value streams are being captured at all times, and that systems comply with program rules in order to capture all possible rewards and incentives.
Resiliency Can Go Hand-in-Hand
Many of these flexibility solutions can enable resiliency, as well, although the amount of resiliency depends entirely on the system. Some of these solutions can enable an organization to island almost indefinitely, while others are designed to offer shorter periods of of resiliency over a period of several hours.
Both resiliency and flexibility address important, and often complementary, needs in today’s energy landscape. Whether that’s ensuring adequate energy during heatwaves or snowstorms, or dealing with other extreme weather, flexibility and resiliency are key to successful energy management.
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