How Spike supports demand management

Small habits have a way of adding up to big changes. Take our energy-saving rewards program Spike for example. Spike encourages members to create good energy habits to beat their SpikeHours. But did the benefits of Spike go beyond just rewards.

We breakdown what demand management is and how Spike is transforming the way people engage with their energy usage.

What is demand management?

Ever wonder why you’re being asked to reduce your energy use during SpikeHours? This is actually a form of demand management.

Supply and demand in the energy system needs to be constantly balanced. This is a complex job that involves demand forecasting by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and multiple energy generators bidding in supply to meet the forecast demand.  

One way to balance supply and demand is to increase supply. We can do this by turning on more power plants to generate more energy to meet demand. Another way to achieve this is to address the demand side and look at how we can reduce demand, or shift that demand away from peak periods to spread it more evenly across the day. This helps to balance strain on the grid.

Choosing to use our energy during off-peak times like the middle of the day, allows the grid to be more reliable and more flexible in case of any surges in demand like in extreme weather events. Using energy in off-peak times not only makes the grid more stable, but also means we can draw upon cleaner energy sources like solar to manage demand rather than by traditional methods such as coal. Every time you flick off a switch, or turn down the heater a few degrees during SpikeHours, you’re contributing to a larger collective effort of reducing energy use and demand on the grid.

Why is demand management important?

Balancing the grid is important because it helps to ensure we have enough energy to use so the grid doesn’t get overwhelmed with demand. Overwhelming the grid can present itself in two ways – brownouts and blackouts.

Brownouts occur when the grid is partially overwhelmed and requires the grid to operate at a reduced capacity causing partial outages. On the other hand, blackouts can occur when the grid is overwhelmed to such a degree that there’s a complete shutdown of electricity across the region. These can sometimes occur during extreme weather events. 

On a large scale, demand management can play a role in helping avoid these situations, and in extreme scenarios, Spike can also play its part. But demand management serves a much bigger purpose – it’s fundamental to supporting the grid as we transition to renewables. As clean, green energy enters the market, it’s not as simple as switching coal for solar. Having these energy sources added to a grid that’s infrastructure was not built for renewables can create overload and supply issues. 

This is when demand management comes into play! As Australia transitions away from coal, larger scale demand management systems like Origin’s Virtual Power Plant, Origin Loop will play a significant role in the way the grid is managed, and energy is stored and distributed. 

Think of Origin Loop as a technology-centred energy grid for households with solar and batteries. The technology coordinates thousands of energy assets to work together like a mini power station to manage supply and demand.  Households connected to Loop receive credits on their electricity bill in return for helping relieve pressure on the grid at times of high demand. Sounds pretty smart right? It is! It’s agile, sustainable and a key feature of Australia’s future energy network.

Keen to learn more?

Find out how you can earn rewards, like PayPal cash and gift cards, for supporting the grid.

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