The Smart Electricity Value Chain Real-Time Pricing and Costing

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1 Invensys is now White Paper The Smart Electricity Value Chain Real-Time Pricing and Costing Authors: Paul Dacruz, Vice President Power, Invensys Operations Management Peter G. Martin PhD, Vice President and Invensys Fellow, Invensys Operations Management What s Inside: 1. Introduction 2. Today s Electricity Value Chain 3. Moving to the Smart Electricity Value Chain 4. Summary

2 1. Introduction With the liberalization of the electric power sector, which occurred at various times and in different geographies, the dynamics across the electricity value chain changed significantly. The open power grids provided a much greater level of competition for electricity generation leading to high levels of variability in supply and demand that directly translates into price and cost. The price of electricity today, which had previously been very stable over long time periods, can change every 20 minutes, 15 minutes or even more frequently depending on local government regulations. Today, electricity cannot be stored on a large scale, which means that the supply must equal the demand or blackouts may occur. In most areas the highest demand levels can be as much as three times that of the lowest demand levels across any year. The electricity value chain must be sized accordingly to meet the highest potential demand levels with at least a 15% reserve, called spinning reserve, above expected peak demand levels to allow for unexpected loads. The efficiency of the electricity value chain is a function of energy efficiency and the timing of energy consumption away from peak loads. Figure 1 provides an example of the typical load variability across an electricity value chain using UK data. Figure 1 Price fluctuations are a direct reflection of the supply and demand on the grid. Prior to the opening of the power grids, most traditional power generating plants were designed to operate at full output 24 hours a day on an ongoing basis to meet the traditional supply characteristics. These generating plants are most efficient when operating at constant load and are typically not very agile, therefore they have difficulty meeting the variations across today s grids. To deal with this situation, power generating companies attempt to use the traditional plants to supply a base load of power to the grid, which they do very effectively and at very reasonable cost. When demand increases beyond the base load, the power generators turn on peaking power plants to meet the high demand and as the demand declines below the base load the peaking plants are shut down, providing a level of overall agility for the power generators. However, the cost of operating a peaking plant is typically significantly greater than that of the traditional plants, which causes the price of electricity to spike upwards whenever these high demand periods are encountered. Page 1

3 The primary consumers of electricity are partitioned into three basic groupings: industrial, commercial building and residential consumers. Clearly, the result of opening the power grids on consumers has been the cost they pay for electricity appears to be increasing and out of control. If the price to consumers is fixed via contract or regulation, the edging to compensate for cost fluctuations is high, difficult to mitigate and can lead to margin erosion for the generators. Previously, consumers were able to anticipate high price periods based on expected load increases and reduce consumption during those periods which were typically the same day on day. For example, the demand and resulting price of electricity could be expected to be high during both breakfast and dinner times when residential users could be expected to increase their demand. Avoiding high electricity usage activities during these periods (commonly referred to as peak shaving or demand-response 1 ) could have a significant impact on a consumers electricity bill. However, in recent years the high price periods have been unpredictable and traditional use avoidance in the morning and evening hours may not have the expected impact. Interestingly, both generators and consumers could benefit from better communication of peak load periods across the grid. Generators could benefit by not having to engage the costly peaking plants and consumers could benefit with lower electricity bills. Though the information exists at various points across the value chain that would help mediate this situation; it is unfortunately not being used effectively by either generators or consumers. Lately there has been considerable discussion on the development of a Smart Grid to help enable better communication across the electricity value chain and allow effective, real-time broadcast of demand-response information. This is healthy discussion and is truly pointing in the correct direction, but there is no need to wait on Smart Grid standards to start realizing the benefits of the intelligent electricity value chain. 2. Today s Electricity Value Chain In order to understand the nature of the issue and the opportunity, it is important to establish a perspective on the way in which the electricity value chain typically operates today. Figure 2 provides a high level overview. The flow along the electricity value chain starts with Energy Producers who mine and refine the fuels used in electricity productions including coal, gas, oil or nuclear based fuels. The production of the fuels is typically controlled by a control system that operates in real time within the confines of the fuel production facility. The fuels are then delivered to the generation facilities where they are converted to electricity through the generation process which is controlled by its real-time control system. The primary business communications between the generation company and the fuel producer is a bill that is sent from the business system of the fuel producer and paid via the business system of the electricity generator, typically monthly. The fluctuating cost of the fuel is reflected in the bill. Figure 2 1 Demand-response refers to a set of strategies which can be used in competitive electricity markets to increase the participation of the consumers in setting prices. When customers are exposed to the real time prices, they may respond by a) shifting the time of day that they consume power to low price, off peak periods and/or b) reduce their total or peak demand through energy efficiency improvements or by self generation. Page 2

4 The Electricity Generator uses the fuel purchased from the Energy Producer to drive a generator to produce electricity and dispatch it to a Transmission and Distributions (T&D) system, which distributes the electricity to the consumer locations through a transmission and distribution grid. The real-time operations of the Electricity Generator are controlled by its local control system and the transmission and distribution of the electricity is typically controlled by a real-time SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system. Typically, the control system in the Electricity Generator facility and the SCADA system operate independently, although in some instances they are nominally or vertically integrated. Depending on the location, the Electricity Generator and Transmission and Distribution can be part of the same company or managed by different companies. In the latter case, the primary business interaction between the Generator and T&D companies is a bill and payment interaction on a monthly basis. The price of T&D is regulated and common for all Generators in order to guarantee third-party access and transparency. The Consumers consume the electricity from the T&D system and though the price of the electricity they are consuming is changing in fairly frequent intervals, this information is not typically accessed by the consumer and the consumption behaviors seldom reflect the dynamics on the grid. The payment for the T&D function is part of a complex settlement process with the Generating Companies in which the Generators pay a T&D charge and the Generating Companies bill the Consumers. It is fairly evident that current level of communications across the various nodes of the electricity value chain does not provide the frequency or type of information necessary to optimize the overall performance of the value chain. The primary aspect of the operation of today s electricity value chain is the price of electricity directly reflects the demand/supply balance at the Generation Stations and across the grid. If consumers could consume the bulk of their electricity during the low cost periods and avoid using it during the high cost periods it would have a very positive balancing effect across the entire value chain. The Generators and Grid managers increased the cost during the high load periods because the cost of meeting the high loads is greater than that of base loads. Many consumers could, and perhaps would, adjust their consumption behaviors to the cost of the electricity to reduce their electric bills if they had the required information within the needed time frame to make the appropriate consumption decisions. Unfortunately, that information is not currently being transmitted although it is clearly available. If consumers changed their behaviors according to the price of electricity, it would reduce the excursions over base load, helping both the generators and grid managers in the process. The potential to optimize the operation of the electricity value chain exists today. 3. Moving to the Smart Electricity Value Chain There is no need to wait until Smart Grid standards have all been agreed upon to move to an optimized electricity value chain. The technology exists today to make the Smart Electricity Value Chain a reality. The key understandings required to move forward are that monthly billing-payment interactions between the nodes in the electricity value chain, although necessary, are insufficient, and the mediating information required between the nodes of the value chain is the price/cost of electricity at any point in time. That is the Smart Electricity Value Chain is one that is driven by economics. Optimizing the economics across the value chain will optimize the operation of each aspect of the value chain and the value chain as a whole. What is required today to move to the Smart Electricity Value Chain? Figure 3 presents a simplified view of the key components required for electricity value chain optimization and resembles Figure 1 with one significant difference. The real-time control systems at each node communicate real-time information to the real-time systems of the adjacent nodes, allowing each node within the value chain to have the necessary information to regulate its operations. This is done in a manner that optimizes its economics and the economics of all the other nodes in the value chain. The necessary information is the real-time financial information the pricing and costing across the nodes. Starting with the Energy Producer node of the value chain, these companies should be able to model the price of their production according to the time frame of the delivery of that production to the Electricity Generator. Fuels such as coal do not required frequent analysis of price since it is delivered to the generator in bulk and the pricing is mediated on delivery schedule. But fuels like natural gas flow from the Energy Producer to the Electricity Generator in a continuous and ongoing manner and the price of these fuels can vary in a similar time frame as the price of electricity. The Electricity Generator must understand the current price of the fuels to optimize its generation strategies appropriately. This can be accomplished by implementing a real-time financial accounting system in the Energy Producer control system that can be used to determine the fuel price at any time. Of course this real-time financial accounting system needs to be monitored within regulatory constraints to provide valid information to the Electricity Generator. Page 3

5 Likewise, the Electricity Generators must be able to determine the real-time costs of its generation to make the appropriate generation business decisions. These decisions should be underpinned by a real-time accounting system in the control system that is located in the Electricity Generation facility and coordinated by an overall system to optimize the generation of all generation units across a fleet in real time. This will either allow the Generator to determine real-time pricing in the case that the Generator also provides T&D, or to determine how to balance the value on the grid with the production limits of the plant and the cost of the fuels to drive the optimal Generator output at any given time. The Grid Management company requires a real-time grid accounting system to determine load, demand and pricing across the grid. Accomplishing this requires that the grid SCADA system must interact with the generator control systems continually and in real time. The electricity pricing can then be transmitted to the consumers from the real-time SCADA system whether industrial, commercial or residential. Unfortunately, few consumers are prepared to use the electricity pricing information effectively, even if the pricing information exists. Each point of consumption requires a real-time accounting view and needs to optimize its energy consumption based on the price being paid for energy across any time period. For example, if a large industrial consumer has an energy intensive operation that is designed to start up and shutdown a number of times each month, it may be able to save thousands of dollars each time it has to start the unit up by monitoring the energy pricing and deciding when to initiate startup based on the price of the energy. Not only will this save the consumer a considerable amount of money, but it will also help the Generators to better manage their load, reducing the demand peaks and the overall electricity pricing, which in turn helps the other consumers on the grid. If the Generators and Grid Managers could provide predictive pricing to consumers across the grid, it would lead to better decision making by the consumers because they would have time to manage the overall consumption requirements across a price profile over time. If all consumers start behaving in a manner to minimize their energy bills in this fashion, the balance across the grid will improve significantly and the electricity value chain will be optimized by optimizing the economics across each node. 4. Summary Figure 3 Initially, the bigger the consumer the more immediate impact optimal consumer behavior will have on the overall operation of the grid. This implies that the Smart Electricity Value Chain should start by closing the real-time information interaction between Generators and Industrial Consumers which typically represents 30% of the load on the electricity value chain. This may appear to be the most daunting challenge across the value chain, but both Generators and industrial consumers typically have very sophisticated real-time control systems. Real-time accounting is available today for Generators enabling them to develop real-time pricing information that can be easily transmitted to the real-time control systems of their industrial clients. The control systems of the industrial consumers can be readily equipped with real-time accounting systems and production optimization systems to capitalize on the availability of real-time electricity pricing. Since industrial consumers comprise a large percentage of the consumption demand on electricity grids, starting with these consumers will significantly move the Electricity Value Chain toward optimal operation. The second phase should be commercial building Page 4

6 consumers which typically represents another 30% load on the value chain. Many commercial buildings are starting to implement realtime facility management systems and these systems can be connected to the SCADA systems to obtain the real-time electricity pricing and operate the buildings accordingly. The final consumers are the residential consumers. Although each residential consumer would be very interested in reducing their electricity bill, the control systems in residences must be very easy for consumers to take advantage of with minimal interaction. These systems are yet to be released, but the residential control industry is getting closer and closer. There is no need to wait for Smart Grid standards to start optimizing the Electricity Value Chain by reducing peak consumption and the associated costs. The technology exists today at least for Electricity Generators and industrial consumers. It is now time to start managing electricity more effectively by driving a real-time pricing/costing perspective across the electricity value chain. Invensys Operations Management 5601 Granite Parkway III, #1000, Plano, TX Tel: (469) Fax: (469) iom.invensys.com Invensys, the Invensys logo, ArchestrA, Avantis, Eurotherm, Foxboro, IMServ, InFusion, SimSci-Esscor, Skelta, Triconex, and Wonderware are trademarks of Invensys plc, its subsidiaries or affiliates. All other brands and product names may be the trademarks or service marks of their representative owners Invensys Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of the material protected by this copyright may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, broadcasting, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from Invensys Systems, Inc. Rev. 04/15 PN IN-0174 Page 5

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