Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership with Wind Energy Direct Ltd., 2010-2012.
An autoproducer is an entity which produces its own electricity, primarily for its own use at the site of generation. Electricity autoproduction is an attractive option for manufacturers with large energy demands, as it allows greater control over energy costs. Any generation surplus to on-site demand can be exported to the grid. Combined heat and power systems are probably the most widely-installed autoproduction technology, however wind energy is increasingly being considered.
In an autoproduction site, the local source is effectively competing against the fluctuating wholesale single electricity market price. Therefore, the greatest return on investment in generation equipment for autoproducers is obtained when on-site usage of locally generated electricity is maximised. Wind energy presents some particular challenges as an autoproduction source, as it is variable in nature, which can lead to difficulty in matching loads to supply. Process control and optimisation can be used to address this problem. Energy storage, in the form of thermal energy or embodied energy in inventory, can also be used to increase local utilisation of the electricity produced. This project aims to enable industries to control their own energy costs by combining on-site wind generation with intelligent load management.