Sunday, September 16, 2012

When Energy is Scarce, This Village Voluntarily Powers Down

Photo courtesy: Shaun Merritt/CC BY 2.0

We already know that smart grid technologies could cut peak power demand by 20%, but this is particularly important in remote communities where energy security is fragile.

That's why Hawaii is experimenting with demand response technologies, powering down lights and appliances in businesses and homes when the wind stops blowing. Now Business Green has an interesting case study of the Faroe Islands' demand response experiments, where 3 major businesses account for a full 10% of the islands energy use. These businesses — all involved in one way or another in the fishing industry — see a controlled, predictable power down scenario as much more favorable than the alternative:
Bergfrost Cold Storage boasts a storage tunnel drilled into a mountain at the harbour side, which means it can lose power for 24 hours without causing damage to its frozen foods. Hiddenfjord Salmon Farm, by contrast, can only operate for up to 15 minutes without power loss harming its fish. After 15-30 minutes, three to four million fish would be lost, costing the company a minimum of 20 million DKK (£2.2m). But SEV knows the constraints and the company maintains 10-15 minutes of controlled outage is far better than the prospect of emergency blackouts that can last for hours.
The other interesting element of the Faroe's case study is that rather than going after the relatively complex challenge of shaping consumer demand, the folks who run the island's energy supply have instead chosen to create partnerships with a few key industry players who represent a hefty chunk of demand. The result is a much less complex, easier to implement scheme that still delivers significant energy savings at a fraction of the cost and red tape of a consumer-oriented program.

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