Upside Energy, a startup aiming to open up the energy demand response market to small business sites, is seeking sites with uninterruptible power supplies to join a ground-breaking pilot project.
As more coal and gas power plants are decommissioned, the energy grid is under increasing pressure to find economically viable firm capacity at peak times to support the intermittent supply generated from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
Demand-side response (DSR) enables energy users to reduce or increase their consumption at certain times to help balance supply and demand, effectively providing a back-up power source for the grid. In return, the National Grid provides a cash incentive for providing extra capacity.
The market for DSR is expected to be worth £1.6 billion by 2024.
The concept is fast becoming a viable option for large industrial energy users with flexible assets such as motors, pumps and chillers, but the market does not currently cater for small companies or households.
'Virtual Energy Store'
However, Upside Energy, an award-winning startup based in Salford, has won a series of funding competitions with the aim of opening the opportunity up to businesses with small batteries and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS).
“We are developing a cloud service that can aggregate the energy stored in thousands of small batteries and UPS in businesses across the country to create a ‘Virtual Energy Store’”, said Dr Graham Oakes, founder and chief executive of Upside Energy.
“By utilising the spare capacity in these systems and selling it to the grid when needed, companies can help to stabilise the energy network and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while receiving a cash incentive, without any disruption to their normal operations.
“Large energy users are already getting involved in these types of projects, but smaller companies are being left out. We are the only organisation looking at sub-50kW loads.”
Having secured £545,000 of seed funding in April 2016 to scale up the idea, Upside Energy is now looking for companies to take part in a demonstration pilot with National Grid.
Ideal sites have a small UPS with a load of 10-100kW, such as datacentres or companies with their own IT systems that use UPS for back-up power.
Upside Energy will conduct a site visit to test the UPS and then remotely monitor it over the course of the pilot.
“The added benefit is that we monitor the performance of the UPS”, Oakes added. “Most businesses do not know if their battery has degraded until it’s too late – we regularly test the UPS and check how it responds, so we can spot early on when the battery is degrading.”
“This is a great opportunity to get involved in an innovative green energy project whilst maintaining the integrity of emergency back-up systems in the process”.
Upside Energy is a member of the Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub’s Low Carbon Network.