Water Heaters Help Wind Turbines

Residential electric water heaters and furnaces, refrigerated warehouses, and commercial heating and cooling loads can help the power grid accommodate variable wind energy.

Corvallis, OR, USA, 21 February 2013 - A new study showed home water heaters can help integrate wind energy into the region's power system. The newly released study by Ecofys energy consultants demonstrates that residential electric water heaters and furnaces, refrigerated warehouses, and commercial heating and cooling loads can help the power grid accommodate variable wind energy.


The project funded by Bonneville Power Administration and Northwest Power and Conservation Council tapped flexibility in some customer loads to provide energy storage, at a far lower cost than competing storage technologies such as batteries. Energy storage is used to absorb energy when the wind suddenly increases, and release energy when the wind suddenly subsides. BPA is pursuing new cost-effective alternatives for integrating wind and other renewable energy into the Northwest electric grid.

Lee Hall, BPA's Smart Grid Program Manager explained, "The project showed that loads have the potential to supply services that are currently provided to BPA by the region's hydropower system." "Water heaters can act as battery storage for the power grid" according to Gary Huhta, Cowlitz County Public Utility District Power Resources Manager, one of the project participants.

The demonstration project involved more than one megawatt of consumer demand across seven utilities' territories, roughly equivalent to 150 electric car chargers. Ecofys project manager Diane Broad said, "We were able to both increase and decrease demand levels as needed by the grid and simultaneously increase customer satisfaction. We look forward to taking the next steps to commercialize this technology."

Results of this demand response project are expected to provide important cost and operational experience to BPA and other participating regional utilities in moving forward with the development of a smart end-use energy resource. BPA and Ecofys are beginning a new demonstration project to investigate the ability of data centers to provide similar services.

Ecofys – Experts in Energy
Established in 1984 with the mission of achieving "sustainable energy for everyone", Ecofys
has become the leading expert in renewable energy, energy & carbon efficiency, energy
systems & markets as well as energy & climate policy. The unique synergy between those
areas of expertise is the key to its success. Ecofys creates smart, effective, practical and
sustainable solutions for and with public and corporate clients all over the world. With
offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, China and the US,
Ecofys employs over 250 experts dedicated to solving energy and climate challenges.
(www.ecofys.com)

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