Welsh Water, a ‘not for profit company’ serving over 3 million people daily, has signed an agreement with Open Energi to share flexible energy demand from equipment across its network and help manage peaks and troughs in electricity supply and demand nationwide.

Following an open tender and successful trial of Open Energi’s Dynamic Demand technology, Welsh Water expects to aggregate approximately 5MW from 25 of its sites during the first phase of implementation.

The technology acts like a distributed storage network, automatically adjusting the pumps’ power consumption within seconds to help manage fluctuations in electricity supply and demand. These adjustments have zero impact on Welsh Water’s operations but help to build a smarter, more responsive system which supports renewables and the wider UK transition to a zero carbon economy.

Chris Kimmett, Commercial Manager at Open Energi explained: “The water sector consumes a lot of energy, but much of it is not time-sensitive, so there is huge scope for water companies to be flexible about when they consume energy and shift their demand intelligently.”

For example, if a power station goes offline unexpectedly, or if we all rushed to put our kettles on at the end of EastEnders, instead of National Grid asking a power station to ramp up to meet this shortfall in supply, Open Energi can ask Welsh Water’s pumps (and equipment from hundreds of other sites across the country), to power down temporarily. Similarly, if it was particularly windy or sunny and there was excess power being supplied, Open Energi could bring demand forward to alleviate pressure on the grid and ensure no energy goes to waste.

The system is completely automated and autonomous, so this all happens in a matter of seconds and equipment will only respond if it can do so without impacting its operational performance.

Installing Dynamic Demand supports Welsh Water’s wider strategy to protect the environment and reduce its carbon footprint by investing in innovative energy generation. The flexible capacity provided by its equipment is helping to transform our energy system, displacing peaking power stations and creating an electricity network which is cleaner, cheaper, more secure and more efficient.

In the longer term Open Energi and Welsh Water plan to expand the partnership to include additional equipment and processes across its network.

Chris added: “We’re delighted Welsh Water chose to partner with Open Energi and this is an important milestone as we continue to work closely with the water sector to deliver the scale of invisible demand response National Grid is looking for.”

In June 2015 National Grid launched its Power Responsive campaign to help turn debate into action and provide a practical platform to galvanise businesses, suppliers, policy makers and others to seize the opportunity to shape the growth of demand side response collaboratively, and deliver it at scale by 2020.