Energy and technology converge: machine learning meets sustainability and profitability for businesses

We take for granted our access to electricity. In return for paying the bills on time, we expect a constant stream of energy. In the UK, it is National Grid’s job to ensure the electricity system stays up and running. A large part of that is maintaining system frequency by balancing generation and demand. This is increasingly challenging with the influx of intermittent renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, combined with our everyday lives becoming progressively more reliant on electricity.

National Grid already spends over £1billion a year on balancing services, with forecasts for investment reaching £2billion within five years. Much of which will be spent on financially incentivising energy-intensive Industrial &Commercial consumers to reduce their demand on the electricity grid at peak times. The role that generators once filled in increasing generation capacity during a peak in demand has now been filled by energy consumers reducing their demand, as the old carbon-based power stations reach the end of their lives.

A large number of I&C businesses have already increased their revenues and boosted their sustainability credentials by participating in demand-side response programmes, such as balancing services. That said, the next technological advance is now upon us, as businesses are now increasing on those revenues by up to 65 per cent by connecting to the world’s first hybrid battery and demand-side response network.

Hybrid technology

It is well known that large-scale batteries mean more renewable energy can be stored, but it is lesser known that there are other ways batteries can be used to enhance the UK’s sustainability goals.

By adding a battery “behind the meter”, which means to place it within an industrial or commercial site, rather than “in front of the meter”, which is to directly connect the battery to the grid, businesses are able to reduce their reliance on the grid in the first place, while helping to balance the grid at times of reduced generation or increased demand. In turn, they also improve their on-site electricity resilience.

“Large energy users have started to take resilience into their own hands by introducing commercial batteries behind the meter on their sites, ensuring uninterrupted energy supply regardless of external circumstances,” says Michael Phelan, CEO at GridBeyond. “This is particularly important for businesses operating in critical power sectors, such as hospitals, data centres and manufacturing production sites particularly sensitive to variations in voltage.”

Commercial batteries also provide an added level of flexibility for participation in DSR programmes. In energy terms, flexibility is identifying the lowest and highest amounts of energy a piece of equipment can consume while operating as intended. A commercial battery is incredibly flexible, its sole purpose being to store and deplete. For example, a 100kw machine may only have 20kw of flexibility, but a 100kw battery has 100kw of flexibility.

Generating value from energy flexibility

With the added flexibility of a battery, a site can respond to frequency triggers within milliseconds, and take more load off the grid. The faster a site can respond, and the more demand it can remove from the grid, the more valuable a service it provides, which is reflected in the additional revenues available. But with this comes increased technological complexity, which needs to be managed by a high-end energy automation platform such as GridBeyond’s.

GridBeyond predicted the direction of the market, and so developed the technology behind the world’s first hybrid battery and demand network. All sites participating in DSR via the advanced platform, powered by machine-learning algorithms, sit within an aggregated portfolio, so regardless of whether a site has a battery or not, it too can respond to frequency triggers within milliseconds. While such arrangements may not have the on-site resilience and the added load shifting, the system combines on-site asset capabilities with storage to create an overall level of flexibility greater than the sum of the parts.

GridBeyond’s technology has already been proven to benefit large industrial and commercial energy users. A global manufacturing leader has seen an increase of over 65 per cent in flexibility from on-site assets when connected to the hybrid network, which translates into a 65 per cent increase in available revenue and savings.

For more information, please visit


Get our latest features in your inbox

Join our community of business leaders