As distributed energy loads continue to grow, more computation capabilities will be required. Utilities are looking for better network control and customers want smarter spaces. And that’s where Intel Corporation sees new business opportunities.
“Intel sees this market as distributed energy loads that continue to grow, potentially exponentially over the next few years,” the company’s general manager of energy Mike Bates told Bloomberg New Energy Finance in a recent interview.
Bates spoke about how Intel plans to embed computing at the edge of the grid that can forecast loads. The company also plans to control those loads in a way that makes them look and act like the carbon-based generation that utilities are trying to retire, he says. “That’s really Intel’s play.”
He went on to say that Intel is working with one of the largest energy traders in the United States to deliver capacity down to a contract to a utility.
“They retired a nuclear plant and they needed to backfill that lost capacity, and they couldn’t build a new plant,” he said. “So what they did was issue an RFP for contracts for companies to go out and aggregate capacity within their service territory that they could turn on and off at any time.”
Rather than calling this demand response, Bates said Intel prefers the term “demand flexibility.” A report from the Rocky Mountain Institute published in February showed that this demand flexibility is the key to enabling a low-cost, low-carbon grid.
The ability to shift the timing of major loads — air conditioning, space heating, water heating — from high- to low-price times can enable significant bill savings for commercial customers, report author Mark Dyson told Energy Manager Today.
Bates says that Intel is delivering frequency-regulation services in Ireland by connecting and aggregating water heaters. If enough buildings can be connected, then it can become a new product for the market, he says.
“If we put the right level of technology at the edge, we can meter loads in a way that the consumer doesn’t even see,” Bates said.