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Energy Curtailment Plan Is at the Heart of Demand Response
November 25, 2015 - ✉ Email The Editor
For building owners, demand response is a real opportunity to generate small to modest revenue. It also forces building owners to think about how exactly they can reduce energy consumption, which is beneficial even when there isn’t a demand response event. To take advantage of demand response, building owners need to develop a detailed energy curtailment plan (or more likely an array of reduction plans based on different levels of energy use).
Curtailment plans for building owners are more than just about energy; they must take into consideration business operations, priorities within the organization, critical systems and spaces, and occupant comfort and productivity. The ultimate goal is to maximize energy savings, while minimizing the effect on occupants and building performance.
The response to a curtailment event for sizable buildings is automated and requires the integration of the energy consuming systems. For example, a power monitoring and control system (PMCS) can provide data that would trigger demand or energy reduction sequences. The process could involve the building kW load data from the power monitoring and control system triggering a reduction of lighting levels via the lighting control system; commands to the DDC system to raise the space temperature set points for selected zones to reduce the cooling load; turning off selected pieces of equipment to represent kW load reduction; or raising the chilled water discharge set point for simulated reduced cooling load as an energy reduction sequence.
Different building uses require different approaches to curtailment. For example, a hospital or other healthcare facility may have a plan that turns off all non-essential lighting, delays the use of dishwashing or laundry machines, and reduces the number of usable elevators and escalators. The curtailment plan in an office building may involve resetting the temperature for air conditioning, slowing fan speeds, reducing overhead lighting, turning off all non-critical or unused equipment, and doing so only in non-executive areas. Educational facilities may curtail the use of cafeteria and kitchen equipment, reset thermostats, or delay the use of laboratories. Each building needs to develop detailed curtailment plans for different levels of reduction and automate the response using system integration.
The development of this automated logic is not easy; as buildings become more complex, the decisions regarding their performance become more intricate and there are more variables in the decision-making process. The demand response policies will need to touch on every significant building situation or scenario affecting energy, operational costs, life safety, and tenant comfort. Much of the data used as the basis for “policies” will rely on near real-time data from the building systems; however, critical data and system-to-system communications are needed with the facility management systems, business systems, utility grid, and other external systems, such as weather or energy markets. An automated building will require numerous policies, control logic, system integration, and sequences of operations.
This quick read is from Jim Sinopoli, managing principal, Smart Buildings LLC.