Hawaiian Electric Company has signed an agreement to incorporate grid-interactive water heaters (GIWH) into the utility’s emerging grid services market as part of a Grid Services Purchase Agreement.
The 2,400 GIWH systems will be installed across Oahu and Maui, with a specific focus on hard-to-reach customers including low- and moderate-income, apartment dwellers, and renter communities. Under a five-year contract beginning in 2020, the combined GIWH systems will function as a 2.5MW virtual power plant (VPP), making it one of the largest competitively procured GIWH deployments in the world.
The units will respond in aggregate to signals from Hawaiian Electric to deliver key ancillary services such as fast frequency response, grid capacity increase and decrease – providing valuable services to the grid that will reward participants while enabling greater use of renewable energy.
Grid services programme benefits customers and the grid
The Hawaiian Electric project is an example of networked residential water heaters simultaneously providing convenience to users and services to the grid – with participating customers receiving compensation. Hawaiian Electric provides electric bill credits to customers participating in the Grid Services program in return for making the thermal energy stored in their grid-interactive water heaters available to Shifted Energy to create the virtual power plant.
The technology can rapidly and efficiently retrofit any existing electric water heater into a GIWH device to deliver grid services at a fraction of the cost of other storage technologies. Networks of GIWH devices, which function like batteries to provide flexible load, can help utilities overcome the challenge of balancing generation with customer demand, as well as support renewable energy integration.
Retrofitting an off-tank controller can be undertaken in less than 20 minutes and requires no plumbing modifications or tank-connected sensors. Its cellular communications platform with integrated cybersecurity enables real-time monitoring, control and verification; negates any reliance on customer internet or communications; and increases asset uptime and reliability. The company’s machine learning algorithms maximize available grid service capacity from each water heater while minimizing adverse impacts on a customer’s access to hot water.
“Electric water heaters — especially residential systems – offer an invaluable collection of thermal storage resources that can be a key contributor to load flexibility,” said Richard Barone, Hawaiian Electric director of demand response.
“OATI’s partnership with Shifted Energy, a Hawai‘i-based company, is an important step in helping Hawaiian Electric realize this potential while providing value directly to customers.”
“This landmark procurement validates the incredible potential of electric water heaters as valuable distributed energy resources that can support the utility and grid while simultaneously engaging and empowering hard-to-reach residents in Hawaii’s renewable energy future,” said Forest Frizzell, Shifted Energy CEO.
“As one of the largest grid-interactive water heater-based virtual power plants in the world, this project will showcase our technology’s scalability, flexibility and value to both customers and utilities.”
“We are excited to have Shifted Energy join the OATI Energy Alliance and provide real-time aggregation of behind-the-meter water heater assets,” said Dr Sasan Mokhtari, OATI president and CEO.
“With Shifted Energy’s water heaters, all Hawaiian consumers can interactively power the distribution-centric grid of the future with a Grid Services Program that benefits everyone.”