Smart kitchens have potential to assist demand management


Malcolm Wicks,
U.K. Minister of Energy
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — August 21, 2007 – Appliances such as fridges and freezers with dynamic demand control have the potential to play a significant role in reducing energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions.

This is according to the U.K.’s Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR, formerly Trade and Industry) in a new review on the technology, which utilises a low cost microcontroller to automatically alter the demand requirements of an electrical appliance based on the moment by moment power imbalances on the electricity grid. “Super green” kitchen goods such as fridges and freezers fitted with dynamic demand controllers, whose demand is not time critical, would then be enabled to participate in peak demand management and the control of frequency on the grid.

Citing recent research conducted by the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST) at Loughborough University and others, millions of domestic and industrial appliances fitted with dynamic demand control, acting together, could facilitate the balance between supply and demand, improve the stability of the electricity grid, reduce the amount of “backup” generation needed and hence improve the efficiency of the grid, in addition to facilitating the deployment of variable-output renewable technologies such as wind generation.

The domestic cold appliance market in the U.K. is around 3.5 million units per year (includes refrigerators, freezers and fridge freezers) and, even if dynamic demand appliances accounted for only a modest proportion of this market, the penetration of the technology could be rapid, with an eventual potential saving of the order of 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually – the equivalent of taking over 665,000 cars off the road.

Whilst there would be many beneficiaries from the introduction of dynamic demand technology, a clear route to market is required to ensure its development and deployment. For example, manufacturers of appliances suitable for delivering dynamic demand services have indicated that they cannot risk investing in the new technology until they are assured of a market for the services. Meanwhile, a market mechanism cannot be established until the benefits of the technology in terms of reduced operating costs, security of supply and carbon savings have been quantified and verified. Further development of the technology therefore should be supported, although it would not be appropriate to promote the technology until the results of this work are available.

“It is very early days and we don’t want to overstate it, but dynamic demand does merit further research,” says U.K. energy minister Malcolm Wicks. “As well as increasing the efficiency of our grid network it could ultimately prove to be an innovative tool in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change.”

A further report on the analysis of ongoing BERR-funded research will be published no later than August 2008.