A power system in transition
04 September 2018
The electricity system is changing in ways that make it desirable for grid operators to engage with residential customers for the first time. EirGrid is responsible for ensuring the day to-day operational security of the power system.
Through our innovation programme, we research, develop and deploy innovative solutions that help us manage it. One of our main aims of the innovation team is to create flexibility to adapt to the changing nature of the electricity industry.
Many of the changes over the past 10 years have been in the generation mix that makes up our power system. We are a small island with ambitious targets for renewable generation and increased energy user participation. Such developments create opportunities to do things differently and deliver solutions that have tangible benefits for customers and the wider community.
Power Off & Save is a residential-focused Demand Side Management pilot project led by EirGrid, in partnership with Electric Ireland.
More than 1,400 residential consumers are taking part in up to 10 Power Off & Save demand events. During each event, text and push notifications are sent to participants asking them to reduce their usage for the following 30 minutes. This is achieved by both automated and manual response by the consumers.
The project is being developed over a number of phases, where new technologies or capabilities will be established as part of a phased approach. This article presents a summary of the progress between May 2016 and November 2017.
The project will help determine how residential Demand Side Management can be fully utilised in a future energy or services market, contributing to the facilitation of renewable energy. The participants are located throughout Ireland. There has been no focus on a particular cluster location or specific area of weak electricity network infrastructure.
Smart Home technology rollout
Electric Ireland’s Smarter Home app allows Power Off & Save participants to see exactly how much electricity they are using in real-time and to remotely control appliances from their smartphones.
Over the last number of months, Electric Ireland has successfully rolled out a selection of smart home technologies, including sub meters and smart switches installed on immersions, heaters and Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations. This gives owners of EVs the ability to monitor, control and schedule charge times for the first time in Ireland.
Other appliances were also installed, including a smart hot water cylinder from Glen Dimplex and a retrofit Climote Smart Immersion Controller. All of these smart devices allow the home owner to turn off, control or monitor power usage of appliances remotely.
A second technology involves a smart prepay meter that extends participation to the Electric Ireland Smart Pay-As-You-Go customer base. These customers have elected to have smart prepay meters in their home. They receive an SMS message, requesting a reduction in their consumption manually within the home. Meter data is provided detailing the reduction in electricity consumption following a demand response event.
Significant reductions made
To date, six ‘Power Off & Save’ events have taken place, with four additional events due to take place. The learning outcomes of the trial are in two areas: customer behaviour and data analysis insights.
Data analysis and statistical methodologies
Two methods for calculating the demand response were derived:
1.) Event test group versus control group
The trial group is compared against a control group of Electric Ireland customers that do not get any notification at the time of the event.
2.) Event test group versus their historical data
Data from the trial group of participants is compared against their previous five-week data sourced from the same time as the Power Off & Save event.
The following chart outlines the results from the six ‘Power Off & Save’ events. This provides details on the aggregate response as a percentage of overall reduction achieved for both reduction calculation methods.
As expected, it was found events taking place at midday on weekdays (Event 3), and evenings at weekends (events 5 & 6), resulted in a smaller reduction in power consumed. This is possibly due to less people being at home and able to manually turn off appliances in the midday case, and people either not being at home or actively using appliances on the weekends.
Response time to event notification
For the Smarter Home participant group with automated means of response, it was observed that 30 to 40 per cent of participants reacted within the first five minutes. It is evident from the data analysis captured on the Smarter Home participants that it takes time for them to take part in an event. The peak reduction times from the six events have occurred at approximately 20 minutes and 25 minutes.
As part of the project, we engaged with an independent customer research partner, IPSOS MRBI, and it carried out participant research in August 2017 on the Power Off & Save participants. A survey request was sent to 1,345 homes with 595 homes filling out the survey – a response rate of 44 per cent.
• Provided respondents are at home at the time and aware of the notification, participation in Power Off & Save events tends to be strong, and a clear willingness to participate is evident;
• In general, more than 50 per cent of homes tend to take part in Power Off & Save events;
• There is evidence of several household members participating in the Power Off & Save events, including children;
• The television, kettle, and phone charger are all popular appliances cited by participants as being powered off when notification arrived;
• The main reason for non-participation is that the individual was not at home at the time of the Power Off & Save event. Other than that, not noticing the text or having nothing to switch off was also cited, but there is no evidence of any strong resistance to participation.
The results from the independent research show three attributes are required for participants: being at home, advance notification and willingness to interrupt power requirements for a long period. The overall demand reduction per home is small to date as customers are generally manually reducing low-energy usage devices.
For manual interruption participants, there is a need for additional consumer education and engagement based on the learnings from the project. It is worth noting that as more automated appliances (such as immersions, electric heaters and electric vehicles) come on stream, there is far more potential for demand reduction.
Expanding, diversifying and implementing
As the Power Off & Save initiative progresses through its final trial process, different types of events will be tested at different times. In phase two of the project, a larger focus will be placed on automated responses from smart immersions, electric vehicles and smart plugs placed on home appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers, tumble dryers and so on.
A night-time event will be planned in the absence of SMS messaging with a focus on automated residential demand response. From the final outcome of this trial, we should have a clearer view of potential demand reduction availability across different timescales of the demand profile.
For further information check out: http://www.eirgridgroup.com/how-the-grid-works/power-off-save/
Authors: Daniel Dixon is a senior engineer within the EirGrid Group. He has worked across various departments, and is currently part of the innovation team, working to create flexibility in the system to adapt to the needs of the ever-changing electricity industry. David Phelan, chartered engineer, is an innovation and smart technology specialist within the innovation team in Electric Ireland. An engineering graduate, he holds a master’s in energy systems from UCD. He has more than 10 years’ experience in delivering and project-managing a range of energy and innovation related projects. He is project manager for the Power Off & Save pilot and contributes to a range of innovation projects within Electric Ireland with a focus on smart low carbon energy solutions.http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2018/09/04/power-system-transition/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/a-aeir5.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/a-aeir5-300x300.jpgElecEirGrid,Electric Ireland,Glen Dimplex