We’re very pleased to introduce our new software, DemandEx™. I won’t re-hash all the wonders of this powerful new load flexibility software tool for demand-charge management in solar-equipped commercial buildings. The rest of this entire website does a fine job with that. Instead, I’ll go into the “why” of DemandEx, and how it fits into the “why” of Extensible Energy.
I’m an energy economist and have worked in energy for basically my entire career. I’ve focused on electricity markets, and in particular, on issues such as how customers use energy and how they make decisions about energy efficiency, demand response, renewable resources, and, over the past five years, about distributed energy resources.
For a while, Extensible Energy was primarily a consulting company for a variety of energy industry clients – utilities, renewable project developers, and large commercial and industrial customers. But if you know my history, I was thinking about software opportunities from the start, and the opportunity for DemandEx was just too large for us to ignore.
As the residential and utility scale solar markets have grown rapidly, the market for solar on commercial buildings has lagged. Indeed, to catch up with the residential market (which uses about the same amount of electricity as the commercial market), commercial solar developers would need to add at least 10 GW of additional solar capacity. This huge gap need not be so hard to fill. Here’s why:
Commercial buildings use energy in predictable patterns. Commercial solar installations generate energy in predictable patterns. In addition, building energy usage can be controlled in relatively simple ways, and yet the market has not figured out how to connect these three facts. So we did.
By coordinating the predictable and controllable energy usage patterns of buildings with the predictable output of the commercial solar installation, three very important results can be obtained:
The building net load shape can be designed to reduce peak demand, saving the customer on demand charges;
The building usage of its own local solar production can be increased, reducing the need for new grid resources; and
The variability of the net load on the grid can be reduced, lowering the cost of integrating more distributed resources into the grid.
This is a big deal. The renewable portfolio standards (RPS) goals of multiple states, the decarbonization goals of multiple nations, states, and municipalities, the sustainability goals of corporations and other private and public organizations, are all much more likely to be met if commercial solar buildings can start to pull their own weight.
We’re excited to be working with some of the leading solar installers in the US to expand the market for commercial solar. We’re convinced that load flexibility for demand-charge management – with or without batteries, without any other expensive hardware or customized site-specific engineering – is a game-changer for the solar industry.
And that’s just our starting point. Extensible Energy is about more than DemandEx. We’re committed to expanding markets for renewables everywhere by using smart software. Buildings and the grid have been “smart” for a while, but woefully ignorant of one another. Our integrative approach brings together expertise in energy production and energy use, so that buildings and the grid can work together to accelerate the energy market transformation already underway. I’ll have more to say on this in the coming months and years.