Aggregate Industries to reap rewards from AI-powered flexible energy platform

Heavy building materials firm Aggregate Industries is set to cut its annual electricity bills and energy intensity by 10% after installing an energy flexibility platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

Some 30 bitumen tanks across eight of the company’s UK sites have been connected to the platform, which uses AI to optimise electricity use in response to fluctuations in grid frequency, wholesale electricity prices and system imbalance prices, among other factors.

The technology uses the flexibility inherent in the tanks’ normal heating and cooling cycle and adapts this to serve a secondary purpose, lowering energy intensity.

“As energy markets evolve it’s important we keep up with the pace of change,” Aggregate Industries’ energy manager Richard Eaton said.

“[The platform] means we can cut costs and respond to emerging market opportunities, whilst providing the clean, low-cost flexibility needed to power a sustainable energy future.”

The construction materials supplier has set an ongoing target of installing the technology, called Dynamic Demand 2.0 and designed by Open Energi, in 48 of its UK asphalt plants, representing up to 4.5MW of demand flexibility.

The platform accesses the imbalance market via Renewable Balancing Reserve (RBR), an Ørsted product which incentivises businesses to reduce their electricity demand at certain times through financial rewards. 

Demand response measures

The move to roll out the new technology follows on from Aggregate Industries’ early adoption of demand response measures, with the company having applied firm frequency response (FFR) services to 133 bitumen tanks at 42 of its UK asphalt plants since 2013.

Eaton previously told edie that through better management of assets, the move has provided 4MW of real-time flexible capacity to the grid and facilitated an energy consumption reduction of 350,000kWh per year in the process. It additionally saved more than 50,000 tonnes of CO2 over five years, Eaton added.

“We very much rely on that data, both in terms of forecasting and trends analysis, and therefore identifying energy efficiency opportunities,” Eaton explained during an edie webinar on data monitoring technologies.  

“Where we have second-by-second metering on our bitumen tanks, understanding the behaviour of our assets much better has realised savings and been invaluable.”

During the webinar, Eaton was joined by energy experts from Oxford University and EnerNOC, with the panel concluding that data monitoring technologies are an “invaluable” tool for firms seeking to drive energy efficiency, cut costs and enhance sustainability strategies.

The edie webinar was recorded on 20 March 2018. The full webinar session can be viewed on-demand here.

Sarah George

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