New partnership between Open Energi and Prefect Controls will see student bedrooms provide crucial flexibility to the UK grid using Demand Side Response (DSR) technology

Demand response aggregator Open Energi today announces its partnership with Prefect Controls Ltd, designer and manufacturer of energy saving control systems for electric heating, lighting and water systems, to roll out its DSR technology across Prefect Controls’ network of university partners and deliver 8MW of flexibility to the UK grid.

Open Energi’s technology will now be installed alongside the Prefectirus system, enabling Open Energi to communicate with multiple devices over Prefect Controls’ network in order to automatically and invisibly shift energy demand, so that National Grid can better manage fluctuations in supply and demand across the country.

Following a successful trial, Oxford Brookes has signed a 10-year contract to become the first university in the UK to adopt DSR through the Open Energi and Prefect Controls partnership. As part of the trial, Open Energi’s technology was implemented across 5 water tanks providing hot water to 30 student rooms. The university is now planning to integrate DSR across a total of 71 tanks with a potential further phase planned to target 300 panel heaters across its campus, representing over 700kW in total.

This is the first time Open Energi has accessed a client’s load via a third party, which it sees as an important part of a longer-term strategy to scale DSR in the UK. Working with Prefect Controls will enable Open Energi to access many, smaller loads in a low cost, non-invasive way, allowing it to unlock flexibility from assets that would otherwise not be commercially viable today.

The partnership will target student accommodation in the university sector with Open Energi’s Dynamic Demand platform. The technology has zero impact on equipment performance, and in return, customers are paid for providing this service which offers a clean, low cost and smarter approach to grid balancing.

Gavin Hodgson, Energy and Carbon Reduction Specialist, Oxford Brookes University said: “Oxford Brookes wants to leave a positive mark on the world and the pioneering work we have done with Open Energi and Prefect Controls typifies our innovative and enthusiastic approach to sustainability. By aggregating flexible demand from our student accommodation and making this available in real-time we are helping to build a smarter, more sustainable energy system for the UK.”

Open Energi is already working directly with a number of universities, including the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), where it has integrated with equipment via the Building Management System. These partnerships are turning campus air handling units and chillers into “smart” flexible devices which can adjust their energy use in real-time to help balance electricity supply and demand UK-wide, without any impact on students or staff. The partnership with Prefect Controls will help to tap into the estimated 378MW of power consumed by electrically heated student accommodation throughout the UK.

Chris Kimmett, Commercial Manager at Open Energi said “Demand Response is changing the way universities around the country manage their energy demand and provides the academic community with the opportunity to generate additional revenues streams which can then be reinvested to support the development of students and staff. The partnership represents an important stage of our longer-term strategy to rapidly scale DSR across the UK.”

Glen Golding, CEO, Prefect Controls said “As a specialist in energy management, we recognise the value of Open Energi’s Dynamic Demand technology in delivering even greater efficiencies for our university partners. It will allow us to work with customers across our business to make their buildings and devices even smarter, helping them to better manage their energy needs and provide the opportunity to reduce carbon emissions while generating new revenues.”

Prefect Controls specialises in energy management systems for buildings with a variable occupancy pattern such as hotels, student accommodations, offices, public building, schools and hospitals. Its Prefectirus system helps to solve the problem of students leaving heating on when their rooms are unoccupied, or opening windows instead of turning heating down.

Demand Response has been identified as a key solution for future proofing the UK’s electricity grid, and National Grid has launched Power Responsive to help deliver Demand Response at scale by 2020.