The UEA Open Energi scheme was highly commended in the 2014 Green Gown Awards, Technical Innovation for Sustainability category.
UEA was celebrated for adopting a dynamic approach to electricity demand, becoming the first university to install a unique energy management technology across its campus. By working alongside a company called Open Energi, UEA uses demand response to manage peaks of energy, helping National Grid to keep the lights on and cutting UK CO2 emissions.
Open Energi’s technology provides a cleaner and more efficient answer to balancing the grid than ramping a power station’s output up and down. We provide access to our loads within strictly controlled boundaries and in return we get paid.
– Martyn Newton, Assistant Director of Estates – Risk and Sustainability
Dynamic Demand is a software based technology that operates with a range of equipment including heaters, pumps, chillers, refrigerators and air conditioning units and turns them into smart devices which can react instantaneously to changes in electricity supply and demand across the UK network.
Grid balancing is vital to maintain power supplies. If electricity supply is greater than demand, equipment could start to fail. If demand is greater than supply, the lights could go out.
Working with Open Energi, we have equipped air handling units (AHUs) totalling up to 1 MW across campus with an innovative form of demand response which can switch the fan speed off or on instantaneously to help National Grid balance electricity supply and demand on a second-by-second basis. Typically the AHUs are only switched controlled for a few minutes at a time and are always kept within their own performance boundaries, so students and staff feel no impact from the service.
As part of a 10-year agreement, the technology, called Dynamic Demand, will be rolled out to large chillers and student accommodation blocks.
The technology should earn in excess of £50,000 over the next three years which will be invested in future sustainability projects, and will help to cut CO2 emissions from power stations.
Dynamic Demand is the fastest form of Demand Response available to National Grid; able to react within seconds. In addition, it is the only form of Demand Response able to offer both High Response (increasing demand when there is too much supply) and Low Response (decreasing demand when there is too little supply) to National Grid.
As more of our energy comes from less predictable, renewable sources balancing electricity supply and demand is going to get trickier. UEA is helping to provide the kind of demand-side flexibility National Grid so urgently needs.
– Ged Holmes, Open Energi’s Commercial Director