Leading experts in demand-side response (DSR) and end users gathered at the Cornhill Banking Hall, London, to share their insights on the challenges and the opportunities. Organised by Energyst Media, the DSR event was packed with delegates from a diverse range of industry sectors – from government, NHS Trusts and water authorities, to utilities, local councils and universities. Headline speakers included Asheya Patten, flexibility workstream lead, National Grid; Ed Nelson, senior policy advisor, smart energy, BEIS; and Louise van Rensburg, senior economist, Ofgem.
Delegates heard how the energy system is changing dramatically. In the coming years, those who can respond to sharpening price signals at any given time of day will cut costs and generate revenue – those that do not will pay more.
While there are significant revenue opportunities, participation in DSR is not without its challenges, and Kate Dapre, head of engineering, energy & sustainability at NHS National Services Scotland, gave a candid account of the hurdles experienced by healthcare providers, in attempting to take projects forward.
The NHS should in theory be a major player in DSR as many sites have generation assets and it is under financial pressure. She commented that while there are significant potential revenue opportunities, funding has presented a major hurdle. “The main barrier is cost. You are often told there is no cost of entry, but there is a cost associated with updating equipment, particularly switchgear, and significant costs associated with G59 grid connections,” she commented.
NHS assets, in many cases, are ageing and the health boards’ gen sets were not installed with DSR in mind. Furthermore, as DSR does not ‘tick the right box’ for carbon savings, it has been hard work to build a case for investment. In addition, conflicting legislation has made participation difficult to navigate. Other hurdles have included concerns over the noise of diesel generators and potential impact on patients.
Dapre commented that public sector inertia and bureaucracy makes it extremely difficult to push projects forward and it can take years to make any progress. While the savings are good, the process can be ‘exasperating’.
Andrew Heygate-Brown, senior energy innovation analyst at Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, also outlined the firm’s DSR strategy, its outcomes and Welsh Water’s plans for a significant push into frequency response.
After labour, energy is Welsh Water’s highest cost, which provides a strong incentive to maximise the value of flexibility. The firm’s primary DSR activity is Triad and peak tariff avoidance. His presentation highlighted what is possible with some perseverance.
“For Triad avoidance we reduce our demand by about 50% without the use of any diesel generators in parallel with the grid,” said Heygate-Brown. In fact, the company has managed to reduce peak demand from 40MW to about 17-18MW net after export benefit – a significant saving. Welsh Water is now planning a major firm frequency response (FFR) rollout and is looking beyond frequency to broader markets. He commented that dynamic FFR was more attractive to Welsh Water as it meant that they did not have to commit upfront. This is an important consideration – Welsh Water only participates when it the conditions are right and it is safe to do so, thereby safeguarding their environmental responsibilities.
Energyst Media’s latest DSR Report was also launched at the event. This major survey provided an insight into organisations’ views on DSR, their current and planned participation, as well as sharing experiences from end users. The Demand-side response: Shifting the balance of power report is available as a free download here.
Event partners included: National Grid, British Independent Utilities (BIU), E.ON, EnerNOC, ENGIE, G59 Professional Services, REstore, Total Gas & Power, UK Power Reserve, The Energyst and Mission Critical Power Magazine.