BPA taps water heaters to stir wind


Residential electric water heaters can help integrate wind into the power system, according to research from Ecofys energy consultants funded by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

View the full-sized chart.

That's not all. The research further reveals that residential electric furnaces, freezers/chillers in cold storage warehouses at industrial sites, and commercial heating and cooling loads can all help the grid accommodate the intermittency of wind.

The project used customer load flexibility to provide energy storage -- at a lower cost than other storage technologies such as batteries -- which is utilized to absorb energy when the wind increases and release energy when the wind dies down.

The demonstration involved more than 1 MW (equivalent to roughly 150 EV chargers) of consumer demand across seven utilities' territories, including City of Port Angeles, City of Richland Energy Services, Clark Public Utility District, Consumers Power Inc., Cowlitz Public Utility District, Emerald People's Utility District, Eugene Water & Electric Board, Forest Grove Light & Power, and Lower Valley Energy.

Ultimately, the project showed that these loads have the capability of supplying services to BPA that are currently provided by the region's hydropower system.

"We were able to both increase and decrease demand levels as needed by the grid and simultaneously increase customer satisfaction," said Ecofys project manager Diane Broad. "We look forward to taking the next steps to commercialize this technology."

BPA and Ecofys are beginning a new demonstration project to investigate the ability of data centers to provide similar services.

For more:
- see the report