In the realm of energy efficiency the term demand response is being brought up more every day. Many business owners and/or homeowners do not know what the term means. Well let me dive in and break down what demand response is and how you can benefit.
What is demand response? Demand response, in lamens term, is when a customer gets paid for not using energy. These utility programs work to actively engage consumers in how they modify consumption, all while reducing peak demand and avoiding system breakdowns. Customers are able to receive incentives or discounts for participating in demand response programs through their utility supplier.
So how does demand response work? For those not in the utility industry here is the cliff notes version of how demand response works. A utility offers credits to a consumer to install an automated device on an outside air conditioning unit. The utility is then able to turn the unit off at intervals of peak demand. Some individuals do
not care for the automated program controlling their energy usage so utilities do offer other programs that fall under demand response. Other systems can detect when energy is at a high usage point, and then reduces voltage without cutting power altogether. [i]
Why is demand response important? Demand response is the country’s current answer to increasing energy demand. By participating in demand response you are actively helping our utility grid work more efficiently. Predictions are that demand response can cut up to 15% of energy demand in the U.S. all while helping to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Oh and the savings of about 50% by only decreasing power use by 5% does not hurt either.
The idea of demand response seems to be spreading faster than wildfire, pardon the phrase Californians. Automakers are now working on the idea for electric vehicles. Several utilities have run tests to see if cloud computing would be compatible in transporting a message directly to electric vehicles. The message is designed to ask that the car’s owner briefly suspend charging to boost grid stability. If the car owner agrees to participate, they are compensated for their energy reduction.[ii]
Whether you are a fan of the idea or not, demand response will be something to keep your eye on in the future. With the developments in only the past couple of years I am sure that there will be a lot more to come down the road.
[i] “Demand Response- An Effective Program To Reduce Costs And Help The Environment”, Nov. 3,2014, http://www.energybiz.com/article/14/10/demand-response-effective-program-reduce-costs-and-help-environment
[ii] “ The Newest Demand Response Participant: Electric Vehicles”, November 2, 2014, http://theenergycolle.com/sbattaglia/2149791/newest-demand-response-participant-electric-vehicles ctive
The view may sound like "the check's in the mail" response to many who purchased the first wave of electric only cars.
Boulder, Colo.-based Pike Research projects that by 2017 "more than 1.5 million locations to charge vehicles will be available in the United States, with a total of nearly 7.7 million locations worldwide."
About a third will be home-charging units.
Pike Research President Clint Wheelock and senior analyst John Gartner say electric vehicles are coming. "It is only a question of how many plug-in electric vehicles that tap into the grid for power will be driving alongside their internal combustion engine counterparts," they write.
While the electric and hybrid market remain less than 2 percent of new vehicle sales, numbers are expected to increase steadily. Going-electric.org says the most pessimistic forecasts predict that sales of electric cars, including plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles, will reach 3 percent of all new cars while the most optimistic show the market segment growing to about 15 percent.
The site did predict that sometime during the next decade EV and hybrid sales "will rapidly rise to a near 100 percent." For more on the topic, go to this previous post.
Pike says the Asia Pacific region will lead charging-equipment sales. It attributes the prediction to strong government incentives and directives in China, Japan and Korea followed by increasing private sector investment.
Configurations of for-profit stations weren't discussed in the study's free executive summary, but Pike says the business model will evolve and grow as operators create new services. It also says prices for charging systems will drop by more than a third in the next six years.
Photo: Courtesy Pike Research.
While the latter term definitely sounds cool, few have adopted the concept. Edmunds Auto Observer reports that the two battery-powered vehicles and 29 hybrid models now on the market remain below 2 percent of U.S. auto sales.
"Were it not for Toyota, there'd barely have been a July hybrid market to track," writes John O'Dell for Edmonds.
Sales up in mid-summer
Sales crept up in July over the previous month but still remained below the same period a year earlier at about 18,000 hybrids and EVs. O'Dell says the high price for premium technology doesn't sell well in a soft economy, especially when small cars with conventional engines are getting such good mileage. Much of this may be due to availability of electrics, of course.
Sales forecasts show different scenarios. Two provided by going-electric.org indicate slow but steady growth over the next decade.
Going-electric says the most pessimistic forecasts predict that sales of electric cars, including plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles, reach 3 percent of all new cars while the most optimistic show the market segment growing to about 15 percent.
While the site said sales through 2020 largely depend on government incentives for consumers and car makers, it did predict that sometime during the new decade EV and hybrid sales "will rapidly rise to a near 100 percent."
Some goals fall short
A new report by Boulder, Colo.-based Pike Research says that sales expectations by President Obama of 1 million plug-in electric vehicles on the streets by 2015 "appears to be well beyond what the actual vehicle market is likely to be."
Pike Research does say the annual market for plug-ins should grow to about 1.3 million vehicles by 2017, and that the overall market, with hybrids, should grow to 2.9 million. Not bad.
The U.S. Department of Energy hopes to make sure local governments are ready. DOE unveiled a couple of programs designed to help cities, counties and states design permits, provide inspectors with training and speed inspections
Standardize charging station regs
The idea is to create a standardized process and "create more favorable conditions for EV businesses, including infrastructure providers and installers, to thrive as more plug-in electric vehicles come to the market," officials said in a press release.
One of the serious downers for electric car drivers is range anxiety. Most of the cars get less than 100 miles. While no big deal for a set commute, throw in an extra trip, a wait in traffic and the driver starts worrying if he'll have to do the Fred Flintstone and push with his feet. No Yabba Dabba Do there.
However, there is some help in that department. Ariel Schwartz of fastcompany.com put together a piece on phone apps that highlight nearby charging stations. Of course those are few and far between, but more are promised.
Expect more EV sightings. I've seen Nissan Leafs when I'm least expecting it and passed a Chevy Volt down by Pixley on Highway 99.
Photo: Porsche 914 EV conversion on sale for $9,000.