Load Management is the active control of electricity consumption. This encompasses a range of techniques, used to better balance supply and demand at grid scale as well as to maximise energy efficiency and minimise costs for an individual site.
Load management is an important part of the idea of a smart grid, using complex machine learning and controls to dynamically balance available power with demand. Intelligent monitoring and controls allow for a network of both active and reactive loads to be balanced together.
Load shifting is a key aspect of load management, used both at grid-scale to balance demand with capacity and for sites to reduce costs. An example includes shifting processes with a high-power demand, such as some manufacturing processes, to a time of day outside of peak load periods. This helps available generation meet demand during peak demand periods, as well as providing additional demand to meet total generation entering the grid during other periods. Load shifting can be used to reduce an individual site or organisation’s energy costs, minimising power purchased at peak times and instead making use of other periods when energy costs are lower.
Load shedding, in contrast, is the overall reduction of total electricity consumption for a site (whereas load shifting continues to use the same overall amount of power, just at different times). Some forms of load shedding are known as a controlled brownout, where power to certain systems is reduced or cut off to prevent more widespread power failure.
As most inflexible generation comes online, load management is vital at grid scale to balance fluctuating generation and demand. Increasingly, grid-scale batteries are providing an important load management function, storing or releasing additional power as required. At site level, load management can help an organisation to reduce their overall energy costs, as well as protect their site from the risk of widespread power disruption and to keep critical equipment operating.