The Secret Plan for Decarbonization: How Demand Flexibility Can Save Our Grid

September 24, 2019
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This article for The Electricity Journal as (part of a special Regulatory Assistance Project edition), presents a comprehensive approach for transforming traditional measure-based energy efficiency into a system of procurable demand flexibility that meets the needs of the modern distributed energy grid by shifting to meter-based, time- and location-sensitive pay-for-performance markets.

"This article represents our most clear and concise explanation yet for how behind the meter flexibility can work as a true grid and climate resource." –Matt Golden, Recurve CEO

The authors bring unique perspectives to the challenge of demand flexibility.

Matt Golden started out auditing and retrofitting buildings as an energy efficiency contractor, and went on to work in solar securitization and efficiency finance, before founding Recurve to bring this experience home to demand flexibility. Carmen Best spent over ten years at the CPUC where she headed up the EM&V department. Adam Scheer experienced every side of the demand side coin at PG&E, with stints on the evaluation team, supervising the residential efficiency programs team, and finally serving as the principal member of the EE policy team.

"This article provides the most clear and concise explanation yet for how behind the meter flexibility can work as  a true grid and climate resource," says Recurve CEO Matt Golden. "As a recovering contractor, data nerd, and insufferable founder of startups, sorting out how to make efficiency achieve its full potential has been my life's work. The good news is that we finally have all the necessary bits in place to enable flexibility to take its place as a full grid resource, and enable markets to innovate on how to deliver solutions to customers.” 

How can we measure flexibility reliably and in terms of both time and location? How can we integrate these resources into current energy and capacity markets, and capture the T&D and climate values? What will it take to unleash private innovation and capital, and perhaps most importantly, where will the hundreds of billions come from to finance this massive infrastructure investment? 

This article covers it all and includes current real-world examples of where this transition is already happening. The good news? We have all the necessary bits to enable behind the meter demand flexibility to function as an actual resource -- the transition is both inevitable and underway.

The article discusses:

  • How behind-the-meter flexibility, including energy efficiency, demand response, electrification, and storage can play an important role in grid stability.
  • How open source methods and software can provide transparent and reproducible measurement of savings load shapes (resource curves) that enable the integration of demand flexibility into energy, capacity and carbon markets, and as a transmission and distribution resource.
  • How a performance-based approach can drive innovation and attract private investment.
  • How this approach to transparent measurement is already allowing innovative utilities to procure demand flexibility in the same way they procure other resources through price signals sent through pay-for-performance markets.
  • How the industry is responding with innovative business models and technology, and structured project finance and investment-grade performance insurance.

Access the published article here: "Decarbonization of electricity requires market-based demand flexibility." Readers without academic access can download the full preprint version here.

Interested in finding out more about how market-based demand flexibility can help make decarbonization possible? Contact us.

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