Survey on demand response
A survey of more than 30 German utility firms finds that most expect demand response to increasingly be used as a replacement for conventional power by 2020.
The survey conducted by goetzpartners, which is unfortunately only available in German (PDF), found that utilities expect the increase in solar power production to cause a bottleneck in around two thirds of distributor grids over the next five years – and that active demand management among businesses and industry could help remedy the problem. When a lot of power is available, up to 19 gigawatts could be switched on, and when not enough power is available up to nine gigawatts could be switched off. Germany has power demand of around 60-70 gigawatts during summer workdays and 70-80 gigawatts during the winter workdays, so the potential to shift the load is around 10-20 percent of total power demand during the workweek – or 20-45 percent of the base load.
The main applications that can be shifted include heating and cooling systems in businesses along with energy-intensive production facilities (suh as for paper, cement, and electrolysis). Interestingly, the authors do not investigate the potential of demand response in the residential sector. Although refrigerators and freezers in homes could run based largely on the needs of the grid, pilot projects in Germany have shown that consumers are reluctant to switch over to a system of dynamic pricing, which they fear could make cooking expensive in the evening after work; furthermore, neighbors in residential complexes might complain when washing machines and dryers make noise when they run at night.
Germany lags far behind other countries, such as the US and Italy, when it comes to demand management. Not surprisingly, the study finds that a lack of policies is the biggest challenge preventing the rollout of demand response. Nonetheless, the author of the study says that "gradual implementation among businesses and industry" seems feasible. (Craig Morris)