Cleantech Market Intelligence
Energy Pool, Europe’s Largest Aggregator, Eyes Rapid Growth
French energy giant Energy Pool, majority owned since 2010 by Schneider Electric, is currently the largest aggregator of demand response (DR) in Europe, with curtailment capacity of around 1,000 megawatts (MW) and a penetration rate of close to 80% in France. Today, Energy Pool manages curtailment capabilities at 70 sites, representing 50 customers. By the end of 2013, its DR capacity is expected to be upgraded to 1,500 to 2,000 MW.
So far, Energy Pool’s growth has primarily come from large industrial customers that participate in the company’s emergency or interruptible load DR programs. However, Energy Pool is increasingly aggregating load from high-energy users within the commercial sector, such as hospitals, shopping malls, and retail stores. Participation in DR by this customer segment is expected to ramp up in the coming years.
Although Energy Pool’s customer base is primarily located in France, the company’s goal is to expand its presence abroad. Initially, it plans to focus on the industrial sector in Belgium in 2013, soon to be followed by other countries in Europe. The company is counting on a push for DR within the EU because of the European Union’s aggressive energy and climate change policy to reduce carbon emissions (20% from 1990 levels) and energy consumption (by 20%), while increasing the use of renewables (by 20%) by 2020, thus creating new supply-demand challenges for the grid. Another major market driver in Europe is the expectation among business and building owners that the price of electricity, which has so far remained relatively low, will rise. Moreover, payments by Energy Pool in exchange for load curtailment, along with lower energy consumption, and hence costs, are also strong incentives to take part in the company’s DR initiatives. According to Energy Pool, their customers’ electricity bill could decrease by 3% to 10% in a year.
Although it can expect serious competition from EnerNOC, which has recently been establishing a foothold in the United Kingdom, and emerging aggregator KiWi Powers, which is headquartered in London with a fast-growing DR business, Energy Pool can leverage the significant resources of Schneider Electric and its long legacy as a building management systems provider. Schneider’s long-term relationship with building owners and facility managers throughout Europe and other parts of the world gives Energy Pool access to a large number of potential DR customers. The company has won several significant DR contracts. (For example, Energy Pool, which declined to release specific customer examples, says it has recently signed a deal to manage the load capacity of 20 large office towers in the business district of a major city.) Such deals reaffirm the company’s ambition to accelerate its growth in Europe and elsewhere.