A prosumer-based transactive energy system in the US could bring savings of up to $50 billion per year, modelling by PNNL researchers has found.

The modelling, which was focussed on the Texas power grid as representative of the US energy system, was aimed to understand a large scale transactive system with dynamic control by utilities of consumer loads such as heat pumps, water heaters and electric vehicle charging stations.

Other findings are a reduction in daily load swings by up to 44% and consumer savings of around 15% on annual energy bills.

In a transactive – or flexible – energy system, the power grid, homes, commercial buildings, smart appliances and electric vehicle charging stations are in constant contact. Smart devices receive a forecast of energy prices at various times of day and develop a strategy to meet consumer preferences while reducing cost and overall electricity demand.

A local retail market, in turn, coordinates overall demand with the larger wholesale market. All parties negotiate energy procurement and consumption levels, cost, timing and delivery in a dynamic pricing scheme.

The basis for the analysis was Texas’s ERCOT grid, with models detailed including more than 100 power generation sources and 40 different utilities operating on the transmission system, as well as 60,000 homes and businesses and their energy-consuming appliances.

These were then subject to multiple simulations under various renewable energy generation scenarios.

The study, believed to be the largest of its kind, also evaluated the impact and confirmed the value of the new role in the market of a distribution system operator to manage a transactive energy system.

“Through our study, we sought to understand just how valuable effective coordination of the electric grid could be to the nation, utilities and customers,” says Hayden Reeve, PNNL transactive energy expert and technical adviser, who led the study.

“Working with commercial building owners and consumers to automatically adjust energy usage represents a practical, win-win step towards the decarbonisation of the electrical, building and transportation sectors without compromising the comfort and safety of participating homes and businesses.”

The simulation showed that if a transactive energy system were deployed on the ERCOT grid, peak loads would be reduced by up to 15%. Those savings translate to economic benefits of up to $5 billion annually in Texas and in turn scale up to $50 billion annually for the entire continental United States.