"This research is vital because decreasing power consumption during the busiest times on the power grid improves efficiency and reliability and reduces the need to build additional infrastructure," said Sen. Patty Murray D-Wash.
In the Grid Friendly Appliance project, Grid Friendly Appliance (GFA) controllers were embedded in dryers and water heaters in 150 homes in Washington and Oregon. The GFA controller is a small electronic circuit board developed by researchers at PNNL. The GFA controller detects and responds to stress on the electricity grid. When stress is detected, the controller automatically turns off specific functions like the heating element in the dryer. This momentary interruption can reduce electricity consumption enough to stabilize the balance between supply and demand on the grid without the need to turn on inefficient gas-turbine generators.
The study found that Grid Friendly Appliance controllers have the technical capacity to act as a shock absorber for the grid and can prevent or reduce the impact of power outages. Such events occurred once a day on average, each lasting for up to a few minutes. The appliances responded reliably and participants reported little to no inconvenience. The vast majority of homeowners in the study stated they would be willing to purchase an appliance configured with such grid-responsive controls.
"This ongoing research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is a critical part of moving the electric grid into the 21st century and will help ensure the security of the nation's energy systems while helping consumers save money as energy prices continue to rise," said Sen. Maria Cantwell D-Wash.
|Contact: Christy Lambert|
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory