Food Retail: How to Embrace Dynamic Load Management

How can players in the retail sector prepare for the future of energy management and put their best foot forward? Enterprises in the food retail sector have been largely affected by rising energy bills. This has had a number of consequences, such as the need to raise prices of goods, and, in some cases, questions the overall availability of some energy intensive products (mainly deep frozen ones). This explosion of gas and electricity prices in 2022 has thus called historical operating methods into question. One solution that is often raised is dynamic load management. What is it exactly? How can retailers implement the best strategy? And what else do they need to know to prepare?

What is Dynamic Load Management?

Dynamic load management is the process of meeting demand for load shedding by network operators. It can be achieved by reducing a building’s electricity consumption by changing the time of the process (baking earlier, storing cool production) or by reducing the comfort into that building (increasing the inner temperature by reducing the HVAC, reducing the lighting etc).

In the current context:

  • Energy market prices have exploded in 2022, with increases ranging from a factor of 5 to 10 depending on purchasing conditions.
  • Network operators (RTE, Elia...) have been called upon to compensate for a lack of production availability through the development of shaving capacity at industrial or tertiary actors. This is typically the objective of the French EcoWatt plan.

By ensuring the centralized (and automatic) control of certain technical installations, food retailers can significantly reduce their energy expenses while contributing to the efforts to reduce consumption required by the authorities. Internationally, deadlines for fixed energy savings are fast approaching.

What to Take into Account When Implementing Your Energy Saving Strategy

These solutions can only be achieved under certain conditions:

food retail

Implementing a Building Management System

Stores must have a Building Management System (BMS) that allows remote activation of the installations (mainly air conditioning and lighting which, unlike refrigerators, do not present any operational risk). BMS can provide a solution, as long as the parameters can be easily modified remotely. In France, the BACS Decree (Building Automation Control System) will make them mandatory for large sites from January 2025.

Implementing a Monitoring System

Stores need to have an Energy Monitoring & Optimization System (EMOS), preferably centralized, to aggregate data from many sites. This is key to be able to track energy savings, target energy saving potential, and spot any unusual energy activity, such as drifts.

Other Important Requirements

Using the Right Data

Your system should incorporate:

  • Signals of load shedding requests from network operators.
  • Weather data to forecast store consumption.
  • Market prices, allowing for arbitrage based on SPOT markets and the cost of using backup units.
  • Real-time modeling capabilities for multi-site consumption.

Acting Fast, Even When Off-Site

The centralized system should allow operators to easily and instantly send operating orders (on/off, schedule modification, etc.) to numerous sites grouped according to different criteria (by size, region, brand, supplier etc.). This should be possible both in a manual way (centralized or on-site) and automatically (when the network operator is requesting such actions).

Using Smarter Systems for Concrete Savings

The monitoring system must operate in a closed loop, i.e. it must ensure that the order sent has been received and that the expected savings (the reduction in consumption) have been achieved, otherwise the value of the load shedding cannot be calculated. Finally, this system will have to define a baseline (the consumption that the site would have had if the load shedding order had not been applied) in order to accurately calculate the savings generated. Similar to energy performance contracts, the IPMVP protocol would be perfectly applicable to this type of request.

Key Points to Remember

  • Rising energy prices are having a large impact on mass retailer margins.
  • Operating methods need to be re-considered.
  • Dynamic Load Management is a major solution.
  • By centralizing and automating control of certain installations, food retailers can reduce energy expenses.
  • To achieve this, retailers must have a centralized management system and monitoring system, implement the right data, facilitate off-site management of sites, and use technologies to predict and visualize concrete energy savings.