AutoGrid Responds Across the Globe to a Summer Like No Other

5 min read

This past summer, dangerous levels of heat broiled the globe, and July 2023 became the hottest month on record. Our oceans reached their warmest levels ever this past August. Temperature records were logged across both the northern and southern hemispheres, with nearly 400 new records set.

This heat feeds surging demand for electricity and increased strain on already taxed power grids. And in these conditions, the threat of outages can literally be lethal. These climate change linked trends are highlighting the growing need for distributed energy resource management systems (DERMS) that can manage the grid intelligently while quickly responding to the real-time needs of grid operators.

For more than 10 years, AutoGrid has been harnessing the power of both front-of-the-meter renewable energy and grid-scale energy storage assets as well as behind-the-meter distributed energy resources (DERs) in order to strengthen and stabilize the grid, advance decarbonization initiatives with sustainable energy, and ensure that power keeps flowing around the world. This past summer we continued to ensure that clean power capacity was available where it was needed most, filling in the gaps when solar and wind resources were not available with flexibility resources that tapped a wide variety of DERs and customer types. Using AutoGrid’s AI-driven Flex™ digital platform, our clients succeeded in delivering the following results to their customers across the globe:

  • Dispatching over 2,500 events across 8 countries
  • Offsetting over 3.8 GW of dirty power plant usage
  • Controlling over 1.1 million grid-edge resources, including households, with DERs ranging from smart thermostats, rooftop solar photovoltaics and electric vehicles.
  • Reduced 11,316 MWh of energy based on data collected to date

AutoGrid Responds Across the Globe

Powering Texas and California

Despite the summer’s record heat and increased demand, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) avoided rolling blackouts that plagued the state in the past, with AutoGrid’s portfolio of flexible capacity playing a key role. ERCOT avoided interruptions to vital electricity services during incessant heat waves by turning to backup tools – such as demand response (DR) and VPPs – to keep critical facility and commercial and industrial (C&I) operations running smoothly while simultaneously limiting outages for residents. Just how challenging was this summer in Texas? Consider the following:

  • The state has broken its peak electricity demand record 10 times this summer because of economic and population growth and the punishing heat.
  • ERCOT asked Texans, both large-scale users and individual households, to conserve electricity at least 30 times this summer because of the high demand for power.

On top of the challenges posed by record heat waves fueled by climate change, each year marks new levels of intermittent wind and solar on the grid – ERCOT went from 25% wind generation in 2022 to 29% this year. Integrating more and more renewables into electricity grid networks introduces load balancing challenges alongside surges in summer electricity demand due to air conditioning loads. Flexible capacity marshaled by AutoGrid’s digital platforms helped avert outages and cushioned ratepayers from increased wholesale energy costs. In Texas alone, AutoGrid helped our customers shed more than 302 MW of customer loads across more than 490 dispatch events.

The California story echoes the successes in Texas this year and last. Kicked off less than 2 years ago, AutoGrid’s California VPP programs include 15,000 households – and keep growing. The VPP programs cover Northern and Southern California and are poised to scale up to monetize the state’s growing fleet of DER capacity. Year-over-year growth has exceeded 10x and the prosumer portfolios are now onboarding substantial C&I sites. Among the accomplishments during the summer of 2023 in California are the following:

  • AutoGrid responded to 20 heat-related events, including instances under California’s Emergency Load Reduction Program (ELRP)
  • Enrolled devices come from more than 20 different OEMs including water heaters, smart thermostats, stationary batteries, electric vehicles (EV) and EV chargers.

Addressing issues of equity, AutoGrid is expanding access to lower- to moderate-income (LMI) communities, proving that all customers can become prosumers and can participate in the energy transition, even when it comes to technologies that have traditionally been viewed as out of reach. We also currently have behavioral demand response (BDR) programs in Spanish, Chinese, and English.

Helping to Cool Down Asia

The heat arrived early across Asia and continued through the summer. Mumbai – the large city on India’s west coast – saw its hottest day of 2023 in early March. Hong Kong reached its hottest day on record on May 31. Heat waves continued throughout the summer. Luckily, AutoGrid was able to help our utility clients in both India and Hong Kong engage their customers to help stretch thin power supplies and thereby maintain grid reliability. By the numbers, AutoGrid was able to:

  • Dispatch 88 events
  • Offset over 464 MW of dirty power plant usage
  • Reduce 3,669 MWh of energy
  • Engage over 1.52 M individual energy consumers

Looking Ahead to Fall and Winter in the Northern Hemisphere

AutoGrid is a global company. Threats to grid integrity and reliability are now a year-round adventure. While fall is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, we are now heading into summer in the Southern Hemisphere. DR used to be viewed as a summer-only resource, but the cold snap in Texas in 2022, and subsequent events, have proven that DR is now a year-round resource. Providing the kind of flexibility required in a wide range of market structures for an increasingly diverse mix of clients that include utilities, renewable energy developers, retailers, and large asset owners, among others.

As we move into fall and this year’s extended, ferocious hurricane season, AutoGrid is ready to support the full gamut of power providers as they struggle to maintain stability and increase resilience. We do this by converging key cleantech technologies digitally through AI to support climate action through multiple solution offerings that build upon our partnership networks:

  • Turnkey VPPs that allow utilities to purchase DER capacity just as they have procured capacity from traditional power sources in the past;
  • Microgrids which can sustain electricity supply when the larger grid goes down, but also offer up grid services to the network under blue sky conditions
  • The management and monetization of solar, utility-scale energy storage, and other grid-scale assets
  • Schneider Electric’s industry-leading DERMS that brings together grid optimization from the Ecostruxure platform with flexibility management from AutoGrid Flex.

Now you know what we did last summer – and what we plan to offer the world this fall and winter. From the control room to the grid edge, AutoGrid is ready.

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