Flexitricity unveils ‘demand turn-up’ system for harnessing wasted wind energy
A new system to boost the use of wind power that may otherwise be wasted has been launched today by demand response provider Flexitricity.
The scheme, dubbed Footroom, provides an automated service that notifies manufacturers and other industrial firms of an approaching increase in wind farm power output, which would otherwise be unused. Businesses who respond by increasing their power demand receive a payment in addition to the extra electricity.
The National Grid has embraced the concept, known as “demand turn-up”, under a draft service agreement released today.
Critics of wind energy have long argued that wind farms end up being paid to stand idle if a surge in output caused by windy weather conditions occurs when demand is relatively low.
Dr Alastair Martin, chief strategy officer at Flexitricity, said the new service will help prevent a free resource from being wasted – and could also give some businesses a competitive edge over European competitors.
“Footroom, or demand turn-up, offers tremendous potential to the UK – not only does it put the country at the very forefront of developing and implementing the grid of tomorrow, but it opens up a world of possibilities for business and for renewables developers,” he said in a statement. “With Footroom, businesses can boost productivity for minimal extra cost and are incentivised to do so. In turn, the grid can increase the amount of electricity distributed to homes from clean, renewable energy sources.”
The Edinburgh-based business is aiming to capitalise on Scotland’s impressive wind resource, which is the largest in Europe, but Martin said the service will have a huge impact across the whole of the UK while delivering dividends “for years to come” to early adopters.
“We have to start thinking differently about energy consumption as we try to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and other polluting sources of energy,” he said. “Taking full advantage of the free electricity that comes with wind does require a fresh approach, and this system proves that it doesn’t have to be a radical overhaul of how we work, just a modification of how best to work.”
The system is effectively the mirror image of Flexitricity’s usual demand response business, which sees it help stabilise the grid by incentivising industrial users to curb energy demand when there is a shortage in supply from traditional power stations.
The announcement comes in the same week as DONG Energy launched a similar offshore wind demand management service, which will see its large business customers invited to adjust their energy consumption when wind strength varies from forecast.