Encirc blazes demand side trail with flexible approach

By agreeing to turn down some of its assets for 30 minutes at times when demand for electricity is greater than supply, glass manufacturer Encirc is supporting National Grid’s Firm Frequency Response (FFR) service – and helping create a greener grid. Energy Manager David Burns explains.

Our business is at the forefront of manufacturing and filling glass containers, offering a 360 degree supply chain solution to some of the world’s most recognised brands.

We operate from two sites, one in Derrylin, Northern Ireland, and the other in Elton, Cheshire. It’s our vision to build an even stronger business by investing in our people and technology, and continuing to embrace a culture of continuous improvement.

Our industry is energy intensive, and the production of glass relies on furnaces being heated to a high temperature, which means we’re on a constant search to reduce our impact by finding new ways to recycle, minimise and reduce our energy consumption.

With energy management a major consideration, we started to explore the market for providing demand side response (DSR).

Managing energy more efficiently

We’re always on the lookout for new suppliers that can add value to our supply chain and help reduce our environmental impact. We identified UK aggregator KiWi Power as a business that was well placed to support us.

After initial meetings, the aggregator visited our Elton site and carried out a detailed feasibility study to see how our production facility could deliver DSR without impacting on our business processes.

Our main concern was that there would be no disruption to our glass production process – whatsoever. By collaborating closely with KiWi Power, we were able to make sure we selected a programme that suited our assets and production processes.

We’re on a constant search to reduce our impact by finding new ways to recycle, minimise and reduce our energy consumption.

The programme we chose was Firm Frequency Response (FFR). It’s a service that helps National Grid control system frequency around Great Britain in real time by balancing electricity demand with generation. The business calls on us to respond at times when there’s a shortfall in generation or a sudden increase in demand.

When that happens, we are required to turn down the power demand on our assets within 10 seconds – and sustain that for 30 minutes. At the end of the process, the assets are restarted automatically.

A greener, more cost-effective grid

By reducing our load in this way, we play our small part in reducing the need for back-up power stations to fire up. So we’re able to contribute to creating a greener, more cost-effective grid.

Getting our business ready to deliver DSR was really straightforward. The aggregator came to site to install a control panel that would allow them to monitor our data remotely. This was easy to integrate and works alongside our existing systems.

Any signal to power down is received through this control panel, which automatically sets the assets to a pre-determined response level. For peace of mind, and to fully protect our processes, if we need to manually override the signal we can.

Effortless to integrate and manage

The control mechanisms behind the DSR systems – and how our assets react to response events – have proven easy to integrate and manage. There is also total transparency in the metering and monitoring that the aggregator does. This allows us to analyse performance and ensure that participating in the programme is consistently the right choice for our business and its production processes.

Since the contract began, we’ve seen a number of benefits and we’ve confidence that our infrastructure is operationally sound.

But for us, the best benefit is being able to assist in the operation of a decentralised energy grid. It’s exciting to play an active part in supporting the changing electricity system and become part of a more diverse, robust and decarbonised system.