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In the summer of Michigan, the temperature can exceed 32°C and the humidity is high. When the home turns on the air conditioning, the energy demand usually doubles.
But at the beginning of last year’s pandemic, the state’s largest energy supplier discovered that many households were worried about how they would pay for the rising costs in the summer. The unemployment rate is rising, and the electricity consumption of people forced to work from home is increasing rapidly.
Consumers Energy in Jackson City responded by donating 50,000 “smart” thermostats to help customers across the state save money during the crisis. However, these devices also have a more lasting effect: reducing power demand during peak hours from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm, when the carbon intensity of the grid may be higher. The
smart thermostat is scheduled to be launched in May 2020 with Google Nest and technology company Uplight. It is an example of how some cities and regions can benefit from the acceleration of clean energy projects during the pandemic. Companies and policy makers are trying to use the recovery from the crisis to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and rebuild the economy through “green” infrastructure programs.
consumer energy and electricity customers have accepted thermostats, which can be controlled via mobile phones and provide clearer usage tracking methods, and have participated in a plan to shift household energy usage from peak hours to other places. During these peak hours, electricity is more expensive, and to meet demand, utility companies often rely on fossil fuel power plants that can be started quickly.
Now, when utility companies anticipate high demand, households receive an alert one day in advance, which customers call “energy-saving events,” and their households are automatically cooled in advance. The smart thermostat will automatically adjust a few degrees during a crisis to reduce the demand on the system, but if customers feel uncomfortable, they can still manually change the settings.
The “demand response” is critical to replacing fossil fuel power plants that operate during peak hours.
Currently, about 30,000 households have participated in the program, which is called “demand response” in the energy industry. Utilities around the world agree that this method is essential for replacing polluting fossil fuel power plants that are turned on during peak hours. It can also reduce the amount of clean energy infrastructure that may be needed in the future by converting entire homes and business areas into “virtual power plants” that can meet the needs of the grid.
Other companies, including Centrica in the United Kingdom, have also been studying how to use batteries installed in homes to turn areas into virtual power plants. These batteries can store electricity when it is cheap and discharge it during peak hours.
Demand reduction is a strategy in Consumers Energy’s “Clean Energy Plan”, which aims to meet customer needs with 90% of clean energy resources by 2040. A goal has been set to achieve the absence of coal by 2025.
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Before the pandemic, encourage customers to reduce energy consumption During peak hours it can be a “challenge” Dialogue, “said Brian Rich, senior vice president of CMS Energy, the parent company of Consumers Energy. Pe But the economic impact of the crisis means that many people are beginning to see economic benefits.
Rich stated that the company “begins to talk about energy efficiency and response to demand during the pandemic as cost savings and bills for customers.”
Luis Buil, Director of Global Intelligent Solutions for Spanish Electric Power Company Iberdrola, said that since the outbreak of the epidemic, more and more cities and towns in Europe have begun to consider how to introduce clean energy projects.
This is a response to people’s desire to live in a cleaner and greener place and take advantage of the new 750 billion euro EU Coronavirus Recovery Fund (officially known as the “Next Generation EU”), which aims to help countries make green and digital transformations.
Buil said that several Spanish cities have been asking how to replicate the measures taken in Zorrotzaurre. Zorrotzaurre is an artificial island in the northern city of Bilbao and was once dominated by heavy industry. It is becoming a residential and commercial area where zero-emission vehicles can only enter, with rooftop solar installations, geothermal power generation and district heating to reduce emissions.