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« Reflecting on a full life | The Ontology *is* the Business »
Tuesday
Apr222008

OpenADR must respond to future demands

I have been reading through the current draft of the OpenADR standard this week. The ADR stands for Automated Demand Response (although I would prefer autonomous demand response, as regular readers might guess). Demand-Response refers to the conversations between electrical utilities and their customers, so that when the former anticipates a too large demand, the latter might respond with a curtailment plan. This curtailment might be under an existing rate agreement or subject to a live auction.

OpenADR is a nice and well rounded specification, focused tightly on solving today’s problems. Even the documentation, generated using LiquidXML Studio, is clear, crisp, and visually attractive. I wish it were more focused on emerging markets, because the work within it can clearly help them to develop.

OpenADR today has three components: communications between utilities, communications from the utility to the consumer, and communications from the consumer back to the utility. Utilities can exchange information on how much power they can produce. Utilities can alert customers to anticipated shortages and request bids to meet anticipated shortages. Customers can respond by making commitments to shed load, and bidding for the prices they would demand to do so. In the future, the lines between these areas will be blurred, causing the components to blur.

The proper target for OpenADR is the enterprise, not the building. OpenADR and its predecessor, DRAS, started out as interactions with building systems. The proper focus of DR requests is the enterprise. The enterprise owns the building systems and so can decide which requests are worth responding too. The enterprise also owns the business processes, which can enable still greater response than can the building systems. If we do this right, these negotiations will be two-way, creating non-hierarchical markets.

So what do I think the emerging market of the future looks like? How is this market different from the simple interactions in today’s ADR?

Participants will want to schedule things further out. Today’s long range DR is essentially a guess based upon tomorrow’s weather report. Longer term options will be based upon longer horizons. What price can I get if I commit today to a maximum use in the afternoon for Thursday and Friday for the rest of the summer? If I opt for four ten hour days during the summer, will the grid pay more for me to turn off the building on Mondays or Fridays? Building Resources such as conference rooms will know that they are unable to provide conditioned space on these days. Scheduling questions should look more like the corporate standard ICAL (used for scheduling meetings) and less like any control system interval.

What if I am a third party energy manager. I have an ever changing portfolio of customers/office buildings. Because the grid is a physical distribution system, shortages have a defined geographical range. Some of my portfolio will be inside the DR area, some will not. I might wish to shut off some systems in each facility for 10 minutes and meet my bids in aggregate. Every Demand request will include geographical areas following open standards that can be reviewed on any tool I use, even Google Earth.

What if I follow the French model and have an all company vacation during the heat wave. Can I get bids in advance to run my generators during afternoons and sell lit back to the grid? What about my solar cells on the roof for all day re-sale? In the future, every building is potentially an energy source, so every building is a potential participant in as a power seller.

Then there are the questions, the questions that must be answered whether or not there is any current DR event. What is my current use? What is my current price? If I needed more power, what would it cost me? Would the reliability of my portion of the grid be reduced by that request? How much more power can I ask for?

I will write more about this later. But watch for OpenADR.

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Reader Comments (1)

Some good thoughts. Third-party demand response solutions are sometimes extremely cost effective. One that I know of even pays larger corporations to use demand response and energy management systems... Demand Response and Energy Management

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

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