Commercial and industrial companies could cut their energy bills or even generate extra income by connecting the computer systems used to run their factories to specialist energy management software, according to the latest study by distributed energy resource management software firm Smarter Grid Solutions.

Distributed energy resources management systems (DERMS) are usually used by utility companies to help run their electricity networks.

DERMS allow grid operators to balance the intermittent supply of electricity from renewable energy devices such as wind turbines and solar panels with demand from energy users, including through the use of energy storage devices like batteries and demand-side response (DSR), through which large energy users are incentivised to lower their demand during peak periods.

SGS’s DERMS software connects a full spectrum of low carbon technologies to the grid while optimising grid operations and revenues for distribution network customers. The company’s flagship product, ANM Strata, is the only DERMS software on the market to combine ‘look ahead’ grid optimisation functionality with real-time control of service delivery.

SGS’s report – which presents results from the European Union’s “OPTIMISED” project – shows that DERMS can also be used inside factories and other energy-intensive industries to improve energy efficiency and cut energy bills.

Businesses could even generate money by selling any excess electricity generated on site by solar panels, wind turbines or other devices back to the grid.

Laing O’Rourke, an engineering and construction company based in the UK, and Spanish high-precision machining outfit Goimek took part in the project and demonstrated Smarter Grid Solutions’ software in operation at their factories.

The project, which deployed SGS’ system in trial mode, looked at how much energy was being consumed, how much was being paid for it, how much carbon dioxide was being generated to produce the electricity and at DSR opportunities.

Using DERMS to control DSR and a combined solar panel and energy storage battery at the Laing O’Rouke factory could produce a financial benefit of £9,000 a year from flexibility services and cut the carbon dioxide emitted to generate its electricity by the equivalent of 12,000kg, the report calculated. The larger energy, renewable and carbon reduction incentive returns are much greater.

Dr Graham Ault, executive director and co-founder of Smarter Grid Solutions, said: “There’s an energy revolution taking place, with energy users becoming active partners instead of passive consumers.

“This final project report demonstrates how DERMS could allow energy-intensive industries and other commercial and industrial energy users to take part in the revolution by altering their usage to fit in with supply and demand on the wider network.

“DERMS could allow commercial and industrial users in the UK to take part in DSR opportunities such as Balancing System Price Response and Distribution Use of System Red Band Reduction.

“Although the financial benefits are modest in this example of two flexibility services, our report clearly demonstrates that savings could be achieved and shows promising results for the future. Our DERMS software implementations in Spain and the UK also proved the ease of integration and configuration to all the available DSR and on-site energy management opportunities in those markets”

Dr Graham Herries, overall OPTIMISED project coordinator from Laing O’Rourke said, “This project has shown the important role industrial energy users can play in the changing energy landscape. Utilising SGS products to manage and optimise our energy consuming processes has highlighted future savings we can make across our operations and the value of future DER and DSR developments.”