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United Utilities the latest end user to adopt AI-led demand management

United Utilities already sources 21% of its energy demand from on-site generation, including from this floating solar installation. Image: Forrest.

United Utilities already sources 21% of its energy demand from on-site generation, including from this floating solar installation. Image: Forrest.

United Utilities has become the latest intensive energy user to turn to artificial intelligence (AI) and demand management to help trim its energy consumption.

Following on from Aggregate Industries, United Utilities is the newest adopter of Open Energi’s Dynamic Demand 2.0 platform, which uses AI applications to monitor and manage power demand and on-site generation to respond to certain market signals such as pricing.

United Utilities already has a fairly extensive fleet of on-site generators – it already sources 21% of its power demand from a mix of solar PV, biogas and hydro, with a further 30MW planned by 2020 – however the adoption of the platform could cut the water firm’s energy costs by a further 10%.

The firm’s wastewater treatment works at Chorley and Bolton will be the first to go live with the technology, but over the next year this will be expanded to include pumps, motors and CHP plant across eight sites will be connected.

In total, around 8MW of flexibility will be connected to the platform and used to respond to peak energy costs, grid frequency requests and wholesale price imbalances.

Andy Pennick, energy manager at United Utilities, said that energy was a “pivotal part” of its service and that in bringing its disciplines together, the firm could essentially future proof its energy strategy.

“As a responsible business we are always striving to reduce our environmental impact and provide a great service. Investing in innovative technology like this helps us tackle future challenges around climate change with no impact to the service we provide. It will also enable us to continue our drive to reduce costs which has seen customer bills decline in real terms since 2010,” he said.

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