Minneapolis, June 13, 2011 — Within the next decade, more than 20 percent of electrical demand in the U.S. is expected to be met by building operators and homeowners more effectively optimizing their energy consumption and resources in collaboration with their utilities, say officials 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 measures such as permanent reductions in energy use, temporary consumption reductions when demand spikes and strains the grid, and increased onsite generation and storage.
The key driver in all cases is the continued innovation and deployment of applications that connect homeowners and building-owners 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, and the expected growth in customer-focused energy programs will be a key theme during its annual Users Group for Buildings.
Traditionally a conference for facility owners and operators, Honeywell is adding a utility track to bring both customer groups together to discuss new opportunities for trimming energy consumption and costs, and managing demand.
Currently, energy capacity managed through customer-focused programs from utilities only represents about 5 percent of total U.S. requirements. But according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, utilities’ demand response programs could increase that figure to 14 percent by 2020, and would reduce peak demand by 100 GW.
This level of generation capacity would eliminate the need for about 2,000 peaking power plants, plants that sit idle until a utility company’s customer energy 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 percent if customers add more onsite generation, such as solar and wind-powered systems and through advances in energy storage technology, according to Honeywell.
In addition, energy-efficiency measures could easily cut annual electricity consumption in the U.S. by 2,700 TWh, or 10 percent of total usage, thereby reducing carbon dioxide emission by an estimated 1.8 billion metric tons.
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.