Demand Response, the age of flexible energy

Demand Response, the age of flexible energy


From unidirectional energy to flexible energy. The Demand Response service, which regulates electricity distribution in response to peaks in demand, is also revolutionising the Italian market. 

Enel X, the Enel company which develops innovative products and digital solutions for consumers, is playing a leading role in a new national dispatching project promoted by Terna, the grid management company. From 18 June to 30 September 2018, 500 MW of resources from industrial and commercial clients have been made available to give the grid greater flexibility and stability, thereby increasing the efficiency of the energy resource use. 


What is dispatching? 

Coordination carried out by “aggregators,” intermediaries between the grid and consumers, now makes it possible to apply intelligent management to energy flows. Supply is kept in a constant balance with demand and is adjusted to meet effective needs. The company supplying energy can request availability (either from the consumer or the company using the energy) in order to reduce or delay its consumption at certain times, offering financial benefits. It makes it possible to avoid grid stability problems when energy-intensive clients (“energivores”) – industrial plants, data centres or construction companies – consume greater than average amounts. When peaks occur, suppliers distribute energy released by others, who in their turn receive energy according to their own consumption needs.

The latest auctions promoted by Terna to distribute the end product on the basis of Demand Response, relating to June-September 2018, have assigned our Group 62 MW. Enel X’s aggregate virtual consumption units (UVAC) enable Terna to benefit from the availability of our MW every time grid demand requires an immediate response. The aim for the future is to include aggregate virtual mixed units (UVAM), as they involve both consumption and production small-scale units (for example, storage systems and autoproduction plants). This is in order to help ARERA, the Italian Electricity Regulatory Authority, promote the achievement of “technological neutrality” in terms of access to the ancillary services market (MSD).


“In the context of Europe, where standards and regulations are evolving all the time, and a world where energy transition is leading to new kinds of energy production and demand management, this trialling is crucial, and opens up the path for Enel to create a hub of excellence, confirming our ambition to take on the leading role as an aggregator in the Italian energy market”

– Alessio Torelli, Head of Enel X Italia

Enel’s leadership in Demand Response 

To lead this innovative flow management and plant monitoring process, our Group has also made several strategic acquisitions in Italy and abroad. On 6 July Enel X bought the main business unit of Yousave, an Italian energy efficiency company. The aim is to optimise consumption, cut harmful emissions and increase environmental sustainability. This ESCo (Energy Service Company) is interested in the new opportunities provided by digitalisation, and offers services to industry, the tertiary sector and local government. 

In 2017 we bought EnerNOC, the world’s largest operator in smart and digital energy use services. In January this American company acquired a 40% share of the Demand Response market in Ireland, and this figure is set to rise to 60%. Owning EnerNOC has also helped us reach out to 8,000 new clients, with 14,000 sites being managed and a Demand Response capacity of 6 GW in Europe, North America and South-East Asia, and has also given us a foothold in the Australian market. 


All taking part in the electricity market 

In the 2018-2021 period we are also taking part in the Osmose European project. Its objective is to identify more flexible, synergistic solutions in the use of renewable sources. Two of our plants, the Potenza Pietragalla wind farm (in Basilicata) and the hydroelectric pumping station at San Fiorano (in Lombardy) are involved in trials that are contributing to the development of the Demand Response service. Partner aggregation and platform creation have enabled companies and consumers to become players in the electricity market, leading to gains in efficiency and more responsible use. 

Optimising consumption, digitalisation, integrating renewables and stabilising the grid through e-vehicle V2G technology - Demand Response is now a strategic market where Enel is playing a leading role.