Advancing Dynamic Energy Management
The California Load Flexibility Research and Development Hub (CalFlexHub) is the innovation hub supporting the scaled adoption of affordable, equitable, and reliable load flexible technologies. CalFlexHub seeks to advance the capability of smart building technologies to provide flexible energy load for the State of California and beyond.
Identify, evaluate, develop, and demonstrate pre-commercial, load flexible technologies.
Support the use of standardized signals used to communicate dynamic price and greenhouse gas information to these technologies.
What is Load Flexibility?
The urgency of climate change calls for accelerated decarbonization of the electrical grid. An important strategy involves electrification of space heaters, water heaters, and vehicles. If not managed carefully, electrification at scale can result in an unintended consequence of increased electricity loads on the grid not in alignment with the timing of renewable energy supply, or even worsen the load at peak times, making the grid less reliable and more expensive. In addition to electrification of building loads, many other end uses can be flexible such as pool pumps, cooling, and refrigeration. By unlocking load flexibility, new and existing loads may be managed through automated electricity price and greenhouse gas signals in a way to make our grid more reliable, affordable and cleaner.
Load Flexibility refers to the ability to adjust the load of an energy-consuming device or system enabled by communications technology that can automatically receive and respond to a signal. For CalFlexHub these signals are electric prices or greenhouse gas data. Load flexible technologies can shed energy usage during peak load periods or shift energy usage to off-peak and cleaner periods. In many cases these green off peak periods may be in the middle of the day as shown in the figure above.
Shaping the Future of Energy Usage
Load flexibility is a critical area of research that will shape future energy usage as the grid has higher levels of renewables and the need to link clean supply with flexible end-use technologies. The Energy Technologies Area at Berkeley Lab is working on this transition from static energy efficiency to dynamic energy management. With funding from the California Energy Commission, Berkeley Lab launched CalFlexHub in 2021 to do just that.