Scotland's Demand Response Solution: Virtual Power Plants

Jan 26, 2016 12:30:00 PM by NuEnergen

demand responseIf you've been keeping up with the latest energy news, you may have heard that green groups, opposition parties, and renewable industry parties are all pushing for the Scottish government to move forward with demand response measures. The idea is that in doing so, the need to build more costly, dirty, and damaging fossil fuel power stations will be diminished. All feel that Scotland is in great need of a political commitment to a national strategy for making it possible for homes and businesses to both reduce and manage their energy demands. 

So what's the solution? Right now, the focus is on the use of "virtual power plants." The idea is that larger scale facilities like universities, banks, supermarkets, etc. could act as these "virtual" plants. These facilities would voluntarily strive to lower their electricity demands, thus avoiding any need of turning on conventional power stations. Teaching Scottish enterprises the importance (and value) of embracing demand response measures is a cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient means of reducing electricity consumption.

Experts like WWF Scotland's climate and policy officer, Gina Hanrahan, feel that the government needs to urge the nation to slash national electricity demands by a minimum of 1% annually until 2030. In addition to cutting consumer bills, this would reduce Scotland's carbon footprint, increase its competitiveness, and make the best use of all of the island's indigenous renewable energy resources. 

The largest burden for making the transition and meeting energy consumption reduction goals will fall upon larger enterprises and facilities. Some UK businesses are already stepping up to the plate and setting a strong example for the future of demand response. Take a Marriott hotel near London's Regent's Park, for instance. The hotel partnered up with a local technology company in order to undergo a radical transformation centered around energy demand reduction. 

Scotland Renewable's policy manager, Michael Rieley, is urging Scottish businesses to take a page out of London's book and follow suit. His hope is for Scotland to become a "Centre of Excellence" in energy solutions, including demand-side management. This is accomplished through moving away from a fossil fuel-dependent electricity system and into one that's powered by renewables and effective storage and transmission. 

So important is this shift that it's gaining a lot more notice in the political arena. Patrick Harvie, who acts as the economy and energy spokesperson for the Scottish Greens has stated that demand response has been and is a constant priority for his party, and should be on everyone's radar - whether an individual or enterprise. Harvie says, "...energy efficient housing should be a national infrastructure priority and we'll keep pushing to see that translate into substantial investment."

He also stated, "By establishing local, publicly-owned energy companies across Scotland, we could speed up the roll out of smart grid technology and traditional energy efficiency measures to create thousands of jobs, alleviate fuel poverty and get our climate targets back on track."

This isn't Scotland's first time being called out on missing its climate change targets, though. As groups continue to urge political parties to move in the right direction, we'll be following the story. Stop back for updates and feel free to reach out to the experts at NuEnergen to learn more.