Insights / 7 flexible electrical assets you should know about

7 flexible electrical assets you might not know about

17th February 2022

Optimising asset flexibility has dual benefits. Your organisation’s electric assets include anything that uses electricity and can be turned up/down or switched on/off. Flexing them can save or even earn you money while offering environmental benefits.

Meeting climate targets, including the UK’s ambition to become net zero by 2050, will require society to implement low carbon solutions, not least when it comes to the energy system.

Businesses that build flexibility into their operations can make a valuable contribution by not only reducing their own electricity consumption but also helping to decarbonise the energy grid.

Here are some of the electric assets your organisation could flex:

7 flexible electrical assets you might not know about - Hero

What you can flex

1. Fridges and freezers

Fridges and freezers are common electric assets that lend themselves well to being optimised for energy efficiency. Naturally, temperatures need to remain within a certain range to keep the products stored sufficiently cold.

However, that range is typically set low enough for the fridge or freezer to be switched off for a limited period without the temperature rising above the recommended range.

Turning refrigeration devices off during hours of peak electricity demand could deliver significant savings.

2. Heat pumps

Another flexible asset your organisation might have are heat pumps, which use heat from the air or the ground to warm – and in some cases cool down – buildings.

Flexibility options for businesses with a heat pump include turning the pump down at certain points, either manually or through an automated process.

This is something Drax has helped a farm in south east Scotland implement, together with our technology partner Kraken Flex (formerly Upside Energy).

Drax was brought in to help the farm optimise its energy consumption and automate turning down its heat pump. This has helped it generate additional income through flexibility markets, as well as supporting more sustainable operations.

3. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems

HVAC systems integrate heating, ventilation, and air conditioning elements to warm or cool buildings and improve indoor air quality by filtering the air and balancing humidity levels.

In today’s hybrid working environment, it’s especially useful to flex HVACs. With fluctuating office occupancy, organisations benefit from adjusting heating or air conditioning depending on the extent to which the building is in use at a particular time.

Via tools like the cloud-based solutions Drax offers through Kraken Flex, HVACs and other electric assets can be managed remotely – enabling organisations to easily adapt to changing circumstances.

4. Renewable energy assets

For organisations with on-site renewable energy generation, including solar panels and wind turbines, there are different flexibility options. For example, increasing the electricity they generate at peak times when prices are high.

This not only cuts costs for the business by removing the need to buy expensive electricity. It also helps keep the grid balanced by reducing pressure on the system when it’s experiencing a surge in demand.

Renewable electricity generators can also benefit from the Demand Side Response mechanisms National Grid has in place to financially incentivise energy flexibility – including reserve and frequency responses services.

5. Batteries

Batteries are hugely useful on sites with their own solar or wind generation, allowing owners to keep energy for times when there is no sun or wind.

By storing renewable electricity, battery technology is also central to the wider use of intermittent renewable sources. As such, it plays an important part in the transition away from fossil fuels.

Companies with battery storage can also charge these when energy is less expensive. Keeping surplus electricity stored for when prices are high enables users to avoid buying costly power at peak times.

Additionally, battery storage creates an extra revenue stream by giving businesses the opportunity to sell surplus stored electricity back to the grid when demand is high.

6. Electric vehicles (EVs)

If you have an EV fleet, it’s important to charge it when demand is low and power is cheaper. This goes a long way towards reducing the total cost of ownership of the fleet.

Organisations that generate their own renewable electricity can further cut costs by charging their EVs directly from their solar panels or wind turbines. Giving the advantage of knowing their fleet is powered by low-carbon electricity.

If you have a large fleet, there is also the potential to use your EVs as battery storage for electricity generated on site or purchased at lower off-peak prices. The stored electricity can then be discharged to your vehicles at times of high demand and cost.

As vehicle-to-grid charging develops, it will increasingly also be an option to generate revenue by selling power stored in EV batteries to the grid.

7. Manufacturing equipment

The systems and equipment at the heart of what an organisation delivers are typically the most energy-intensive part of its operation. This means introducing flexibility could have a significant impact.

Assess your manufacturing processes and identify potential changes. For instance, could your schedule be amended so your most energy-intensive equipment is not used at peak times?

Analysing its operations helped agricultural business Sundown Products optimise its electric assets, saving £35,000 a year. With the support of Drax’s Electric Assets team, the business implemented flexibility solutions including changing the times when machines are switched off.

How Drax can help

Different organisations will be at different stages when it comes to flexing electric assets. Regardless of which stage your company is at, Drax can help you understand your energy usage and how it can be optimised.

We have extensive experience in helping businesses maximise their flexible assets. Through our technology partner Kraken Flex, we also offer a streamlined digital solution that lets customers easily track and control their electric assets.

To find out more about how Drax can help, contact our Electric Assets team today.

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