Using the software to control its aluminium holding pots, the business will help the UK’s National Grid balance electricity supply and demand and reduce CO2 emissions, while at the same time generate revenues of up to £25,000 per annum.
Caparo Bridge Aluminium has nearly 100 years of experience in supplying aluminium gravity die castings for the automotive, commercial vehicle and off-highway markets in the UK and overseas.
Its Wednesbury-based plant has forty-six holding pots, which store molten aluminium. The material is kept at constant temperatures before it is poured into dies for the manufacture of the casting.
In an effort to help reduce environmental impact and improve competitiveness, the business chose Open Energi’s Dynamic Demand software based technology, which has converted its holding pots into smart devices, reacting instantaneously to changes in the electricity supply and demand across the UK network. The solution makes rapid adjustments to the pots’ energy consumption to help National Grid achieve this balance on a second-by-second basis. Because the changes are governed by the pots’ own controls and typically last only for a few minutes at a time, their performance is unaffected and has no impact on the operational process. After implementation the pots collectively deliver just over 1MW of response to help National Grid balance electricity supply and demand. This will help to reduce UK CO2 emissions from power stations by over 2,000 tonnes a year while Caparo Bridge Aluminium expects to generate revenues of almost £25,000 a year from the service.
Wayne Priest, plant director at Bridge Aluminium commented: “We are constantly looking at ways of reducing our overheads and energy is a massive part of that. Open Energi offered a different angle to the usual energy efficiency measures, many of which we have already implemented. Instead of saving us energy, they are helping us to turn some of our most energy-intensive assets into income.
“We undertook a blind trial of Dynamic Demand involving just six holding pots earlier this year. This meant that none of our operatives on the plant floor were aware that the pots’ energy consumption was being altered. No one noticed and it had no impact whatsoever on the quality or integrity of the end product.”
Ged Holmes, commercial director at Open Energi, added: “Foundries such as Caparo Bridge Aluminium are the heart and soul of UK manufacturing but they are under constant pressure to maintain their competiveness in the face of rising costs. Dynamic Demand can provide an additional source of revenue for them whilst also helping to provide a cost-effective solution to the capacity challenges facing the UK.”
Dynamic Demand will be implemented and fully operational at Caparo Bridge Aluminium in September 2014.