Within the next decade, more than 20% of electrical demand in the United States is expected to be met by facility managers more effectively optimizing their energy consumption and resources in collaboration with their utilities, say energy experts at Honeywell.
This shift will put energy users at the center of efforts to make the utility grid smarter and more stable. Accomplishing the transformation will include measure such as permanent reductions in energy use, temporary consumption reductions when demand spikes and strains the grid, and increased on site generation and storage. The key driver in all cases is the continued innovation and deployment of applications that connect buildings to utilities and allow users to automate their response to changes in energy reliability and prices.
Honeywell is actively working to help energy users and utilities realize the benefits of a smarter grid. Currently, energy capacity managed through customer-focused programs from utilities only represents about 5% of total U.S. requirements. But according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), utilities’ demand response programs could increase that figure to 14% by 2020, and would reduce peak demand by 100 gigawatts. This level of generation capacity would eliminate the need for approximately 2,000 peaking power plants, plants that sit idle until a utility company’s customer demands are greater than the power it can deliver.
In many cases, these peaking plants are costly to build and are powered by coal or diesel fuel, both of which contribute to carbon emissions. The figure could top 20% if customers add more on site generation, such as solar and wind powered systems and through advances in energy storage technology. In addition, energy efficiency measures could easily cut annual electricity consumption in the U.S. by 2,700 terawatt-hours, or 10% of total usage, thereby reducing carbon dioxide emission by an estimated 1.8 billion metric tons.
“The real gains come in combining all these efforts,” said Paul Orzeske, president of Honeywell Building Solutions. ”The smart grid is not just about making utility equipment and networks more intelligent. The other side of the coin is providing energy users with the technology that allows them to participate in the dynamic exercise of balancing supply and demand.”
However, to ensure the success of the evolving grid, several challenges must be addressed. This includes setting national standards to ensure that utilities and their customers can securely exchange information, and creating federal and state incentives that foster domestic resources and encourage both efficiency and flexibility. Merging traditional energy saving initiatives in facilities with utility driven programs must also continue to gain momentum.
“The lines between producer and consumer are starting to blur, which provides an opportunity to change the old and somewhat antiquated energy models,” said Jeremy Eaton, vice president of energy solutions for Honeywell Building Solutions. “We need to create effective bonds between utilities and their customers — bonds that deliver value across the entire supply-demand continuum. The good news is the technology to build these connections and give users the ability to automate energy decisions already exists. And it requires less capital than generating new power.”
Honeywell recently received several grants from the Department of Energy as part of the largest grid modernization investment in U.S. history. Honeywell is also helping power providers across the globe better manage energy supply and demand, giving their customers the tools to adjust electricity use automatically and reduce the burden on the utility infrastructure.