How grid-interactive water heaters are joining the battery revolution,
by Margaret McCall, Rocky Mountain Institute Blog
WHY THE BUZZ ABOUT WATER HEATERS?
Water heaters and batteries have one fundamental feature in common: they both store energy, batteries as charge and water heaters as heat. This ability to store energy gives water heaters flexibility. For example, they can be heated at night when power is cheap without jeopardizing your ability to take a hot shower in the morning.
Grid-interactive water heaters (GIWH) are electric water heaters that the grid operator or the local utility can control in real time (or the customer, automated software, or a third party could control them in response to granular retail price signals from the utility). This controllability makes a GIWH valuable for more than just hot showers. For example, in addition to heating water when power is cheap, it can also shut down during yearly system peaks, help integrate renewables, and provide services to the electric grid like frequency regulation. Optimizing water heaters like this can significantly reduce carbon emissions and, as explained below, create billions of dollars in value.
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ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
The Hidden Battery: Opportunities in Electric Water Heating (PDF), Brattle Group Report prepared for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Peak Load Management Alliance (PLMA)