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Open Energi to bring demand side response to universities

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Oxford Brookes has become the first university to offer demand side response to National Grid through a new partnership between Open Energi and Prefect Controls.

Open Energi is set to gain 8MW of demand side response (DSR) flexibility after partnering with control systems manufacturer Prefect Controls to roll out its technology to universities around the UK.

Open Energi will install its Dynamic Demand platform at Prefect Controls’ network of university partners, using the company’s Prefectirus system to communicate with multiple devices. This will allow the aggregator to automatically shift energy demand in an effort to help National Grid manage fluctuations in national supply and demand.

Oxford Brookes has become the first university to adopt the DSR technology followed a successful trial in which Open Energi’s technology was applied to five water tanks providing hot water to 30 student rooms.

Under the new 10-year deal, the university will integrate DSR across 71 tanks with a potential further phase planned to target 300 panel heaters across its campus, representing over 700kW in total.

The deal represents new territory for Open Energi as it is the first time the service provider has accessed a client’s load via a third party. It says working across the various universities of Prefect Controls’ network will enable access to many, smaller loads in a low cost, non-invasive way, allowing it to unlock flexibility from assets that would otherwise not be commercially viable.

In return, customers are paid for providing this type of grid balancing. Speaking recently about Welsh Water’s decision to offer up to 5MW of DSR to Open Energi, head of energy Mike Pedley said: “We're happy with the projected returns.”

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.”

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 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.

Mike Pedley will be speaking at Clean Energy Live, taking place on 4-6 October at Birmingham's NEC, and offering advice on corporate energy management.


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