Storage and demand response: opposition or complementarity?

In terms of electricity, energy efficiency, the emergence of intermittent energies (solar, wind), the increasing difficulty of balancing networks, the desire to reduce the peak loads to limit investments in complementary capacities dedicated to these peaks of consumption, have increased the need to manage demand.

Demand side management includes all actions to modify, depending on needs expressed in different ways, either electricity consumed or electricity delivered by the utility’s network.

Among these actions, two have occupied, and still occupy, the front of the stage: demand response and storage. Both contribute to modify or interrupt the electricity delivered by the grid. Some tend to oppose them and put them in competition: are they right? Are these technologies truly competing or complementary?

Demand response is a low-capital technology for a consumer: it allows it to shed one or more loads and to postpone, if possible, their consumption a little later. Its main characteristic is to be perceivable, in most cases, when it does not take the form of modulation of a consumption (variation around a nominal value), by the customer.

Storage, on the other hand, is a solution requiring significant investments. Unlike demand response, the use of storage is not perceptible by the consumer.

Without going into the details of the applications served in priority by either of these technologies, it is therefore easy to reveal significant differences between them. It is easy to understand that they may have their reserved scope and that they are not (always) competing. Are they complementary?

An example shows that this can be the case: a photovoltaic solar energy production can participate in the balancing of the network via the tertiary reserve by being shed at the request of the TSO, the manager of this balance.Associated with a storage capacity, this same solar energy production can capture much higher remuneration by participating in the balance mechanism via the primary reserve.

I do not mean, however, that such an combination is profitable under current market conditions, but it is clear that both technologies have here a complementary field, already tested by energy providers, that the future will allow certainly to exploit in a profitable way.

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