Bolton firm helps keep the county's lights shining

Bolton firm helps keep the county's lights shining

Andy Pennick, energy manager at United Utilities

United Utilities plant in Bolton

First published in News This Is Lancashire: Photograph of the Author by , news editor

A WATER company is helping keep the UK’s lights shining by getting super smart with its own power use in Bolton.

United Utilities is the first company in the North West and the first water firm in the country to sign-up for ‘Dynamic Demand’ – an innovative quick-fire way of switching power-hungry equipment off and on in response to changes in electricity supply and demand nationally.

The system acts like a “virtual power station”, allowing National Grid to even out temporary peaks and troughs in demand instead of turning power stations up and down.

A smart box installed at United Utilities’ wastewater treatment plant at Bolton allows the process equipment to “talk” to the grid.

Motors and pumps can be turned on and off in seconds in response to variations in power frequency.

Andy Pennick, energy manager at United Utilities, said: “Water and wastewater treatment is a really energy intensive process — power is one of our biggest operating costs — so we’re looking both inside and outside our business to see how we can work smarter. That means using less power and being willing to be flexible in the way we use that power.”

Traditionally generation has been adjusted, minute by minute, to meet demand for power, with gas fired power stations kicking in whenever there was a surge in demand. From next year some of gas fired power stations will be decommissioned and the UK is increasingly moving towards intermittent renewable energy like wind farms.

Dynamic Demand adjusts demand to meet the power available.

Large energy users, like water companies, can identify which items of equipment are not time-sensitive in their operation. This equipment can then respond within agreed parameters to provide a service to National Grid.

Mr Pennick said: “In effect, we’ve become like a virtual power station. When everyone gets up after watching the Great British Bake Off to switch the kettle on, some of our pumps go off automatically to free up the power. That might only be for a few minutes, then they can restart again. We have a lot of tanks and water storage within our processes, so we can be flexible about precisely when we use our pumps. The lower operating costs are good news for our customers.”

Open Energi is the company behind ‘Dynamic Demand’ and it predicts the UK value of the demand balancing market for large energy users will be about £1 billion by the year 2020.

Comments (5)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

1:46pm Sun 24 Aug 14

Chrome1 says...

Jane (new face?), I think you're overplaying the Bolton firm bit on this one. UU isn't exactly based in Bolton. Plus is it newsworthy? I got a wee bit bored from the second paragraph onwards.
Jane (new face?), I think you're overplaying the Bolton firm bit on this one. UU isn't exactly based in Bolton. Plus is it newsworthy? I got a wee bit bored from the second paragraph onwards. Chrome1
  • Score: 2

3:53pm Sun 24 Aug 14

JustBecause says...

Think that's a great idea,.
Think that's a great idea,. JustBecause
  • Score: 1

5:26pm Sun 24 Aug 14

FrusteratedCowYed says...

Since when has United Utilities been a Bolton firm? As far as I know they have always been based in Warrington! Poor journalism again by BN.
Since when has United Utilities been a Bolton firm? As far as I know they have always been based in Warrington! Poor journalism again by BN. FrusteratedCowYed
  • Score: 4

6:34pm Sun 24 Aug 14

artistpaint says...

Have you read the one abt the food fest and joan toad making the best steak in the world.how pathetic.these morons on telly cant cook fishfingers.all staged...the organisers should give space to local chefs.
Have you read the one abt the food fest and joan toad making the best steak in the world.how pathetic.these morons on telly cant cook fishfingers.all staged...the organisers should give space to local chefs. artistpaint
  • Score: 0

7:22pm Sun 24 Aug 14

steveG says...

I always thought it was the water board.
New technology?.Sounds like technology that's been around many moons just that they've just decided to utilise it.
I always thought it was the water board. New technology?.Sounds like technology that's been around many moons just that they've just decided to utilise it. steveG
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree