Honeywell has been selected by Scottish and Southern Energy plc to conduct the first automated demand response pilot project for commercial and industrial facilities in Europe. The Auto DR project will give SSE the ability to work with its business customers to temporarily reduce or shift energy use when overall demand spikes, creating transmission and distribution bottlenecks.

While meeting electricity needs is typically not an issue, the amount of power required to satisfy peak demand is quickly rising, pushing network capacity and creating the potential for future outages. The investment required to replace or reinforce the infrastructure is significant, as is the disruption a large public works project can create. This is a growing concern in urban areas across the U.K. and Europe.

SSE will use the pilot to develop a long-term strategy for Auto DR, and the project will provide valuable insight for other distribution network operators (DNOs) across the continent. The initial deployment is being supported by the Low Carbon Network Fund, which was established by Britain’s energy regulator Ofgem to promote the development of energy conservation technologies and implementation of smart grid solutions.

As part of the pilot, Honeywell will use several technologies in its portfolio — including offerings from Akuacom and Tridium — to connect SSE with commercial and industrial buildings on the utility’s Bracknell network in southern England. The Demand Response Automation Server (DRAS) from Akuacom allows the utility to alert customers when energy use is expected to peak and create grid congestion. At each facility, a Tridium controller will help automate load-shedding strategies during these periods. The controller listens for signals from the DRAS and communicates with the building management system, which then makes short-term changes based on parameters the customer sets in advance. The changes range from turning off banks of lights to cycling equipment on and off.

In addition to providing and implementing the technology, Honeywell will offer consulting and engineering services to help the customers develop shed strategies, looking for ways to briefly reduce energy use with minimal impact to operations. Honeywell will also investigate opportunities to decrease day-to-day consumption, which will help participants reduce their operating costs and environmental impact, and align with Carbon Reduction Commitment legislation.

This is pioneering work by SSE and Honeywell since previous programs have been largely manual and cumbersome to initiate, which meant building operators had to dedicate the necessary resources to participate and utilities couldn’t count on a consistent response. The Akuacom and Tridium technologies are able to interact with virtually any building system, providing a reliable decrease in consumption with minimal input. That’s because the solution is based on open, industry-accepted standards. Should SSE decide to change solution providers, it can do so without the risk and cost of stranded assets.