An Irish Solution to an Irish Problem

Ireland has a unique characteristic from an energy perspective.  We have the best wind energy of any location in the world but we are unable to exploit it because of the mismatch between demand and supply. There is no flexibility in wind energy supply and to date there is very little flexibility in electricity demand. This problem is very well described in ‘Pumped Hydro Energy Storage to Support Wind Energy Penetration in Ireland’. Currently this paper is available at :  http://www.ucc.ie/serg/pub/PS-R2.pdf

Recently there has been significant interest in and investigation of pumped hydro energy storage in Ireland. I have not heard mention of the the use of energy demand management (EDM).

There are two organisation in the USA to support professionals and companies involved in energy demand management :-

  1. The Peak Load Management Alliance   http://www.peaklma.com/
  2. Demand Response and Advanced Metering Coalition   http://www.dramcoalition.org/

The most publicly visible commercial organisations in the US involved in EDM are EnerNOC Inc. (www.enernoc.com) and Comverge Inc. (www.comverge.com). Enernoc currently claim to have 650MW of customer owned diesel generator power under their control for grid stabilisation. Comverge claim to have 4.5 million demand management modules installed.

Although there is a place for both, I believe that EDM is a better solution for grid stabilisation, than pumped hydro, in Ireland for three reasons:

  1. It has very low capital cost because it uses existing resources
  2. It does not have the losses (typically 20-25%) or capacity limitation of pumped hydro
  3. It can contribute to carbon emissions reduction when combined with a bio-diesel / FAME/ PPO project