1 April 2014: The University of East Anglia (UEA) has become the first UK university to install a unique energy management technology across its campus, helping National Grid to keep the lights on and boosting its credentials as one of the most sustainable universities in the country.

Working with Open Energi, UEA has equipped air handling units (AHUs) across its estate with an innovative from of Demand Response which can switch the AHUs off or on instantaneously to help National Grid balance electricity supply and demand on a second-by-second basis.

Grid balancing is vital to maintain power supplies. If electricity supply is greater than demand, equipment could start to fail. If demand is greater than supply, the lights could go out. UEA has become the first university in the country whose campus equipment has been used for this purpose.

As part of a 10-year agreement, AHUs totalling up to 1 MW from across UEA’s main campus in Norwich have been equipped with the technology, called Dynamic Demand, and it will be rolled out to large chillers and student accommodation blocks over time. Typically the AHUs are only switched for a few minutes at a time and are always kept within their own performance boundaries, so students and staff feel no impact from the service.

The technology should earn UEA in excess of £50,000 over the next three years which will be invested in to future sustainability projects, and will help to cut CO2emissions from power stations.

Martyn Newton, Assistant Director of Estates said “UEA has a top-rated School of Environmental Science and we are committed to replicating this success in the sustainability of our campus and its surrounding environment. Adopting more intelligent ways of managing our electricity demand supports this goal.

“Open Energi’s technology provides a cleaner and more efficient answer to balancing the grid than ramping a power station’s output up and down. We provide access to our loads within strictly controlled boundaries and in return we get paid.”

Ged Holmes, Open Energi’s Commercial Director added “As more of our energy comes from less predictable, renewable sources balancing electricity supply and demand is going to get trickier. UEA is blazing a trail in its sector and helping to provide the kind of demand-side flexibility National Grid so urgently needs.”