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In this series “What is …? “we want to gradually introduce and explain terms that we deal with on a daily basis and that may not be familiar to everyone.
Today: What is demand side management? What does it mean and why should I know what it is?

Here’s a quick example to illustrate what demand-side management is at its core:

If you want to save money, you don’t buy bikinis and swimming trunks just before the summer vacations and snowsuits not in the winter months, but when demand is low.

The German electricity market is soon to function in a similar way. This control of loads on the consumer side is called demand-side management (DSM) or load management.
With demand-side management, electricity customers flexibly influence their own consumption in order to balance out fluctuating electricity generation from renewable energy plants at the request of the network operator. In return for flexibilizing its loads to provide system services, the customer can receive special tariffs and thus reduce its electricity costs.

Of course, this principle also works for industrial companies. Companies that flexibly control their production processes can use electricity when it is particularly cheap, for example when solar radiation is high. When the general demand for electricity is high, they can reduce production or rely on storage batteries.

What’s new about demand-side management?

Until now, energy production has been based on consumer demand: High demand – High electricity production. Low demand – Low electricity production. However, with the ever-increasing use of renewables, it is not so easy to predict and control the production of electricity. We cannot influence when wind power or solar radiation are particularly strong and a lot of energy can be generated. In the future, consumers will be able to react flexibly to this and thus compensate for fluctuations.

The potential for demand-side management is particularly high in industrial operations that consume a lot of energy for their production. The challenging task for production companies is to operate energy-efficiently and flexibly at the same time. For this reason, research projects on demand-side management have been funded by the BMWI, among others, for several years.

Example of a project

In the DESPRIMA research project, for example, our cooperation partner, SWW Wunsiedel GmbH, was active in the period from July 2019 to March 2023. There, the potentials and intelligent controllers for combined demand-side and production management were demonstrated and implemented using the example of a beverage bottling plant. The results of the research project will be published soon. We will of course publish the link here.

DESPRIMA Consortium

We hope that we have thus been able to clarify what demand-side management is and how it works. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Lisa Ziemer.

Your Es-geht! Team