Energy Central Power Perspectives™: Getting to Know Michael Khachiki, Expert in the Load Management Community
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- Dec 26, 2019 3:45 pm GMT
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The utility industry of yesterday was simply about generating enough energy to meet the growing consumption from customers as the only dynamic pulling between supply and demand. But as the grid grows smarter and utilities look for innovative ways to engage and leverage their customers to be partners in the process, load management has become an area of increasing importance. Rather than blindly meet any and all demand that’s expected to come from the grid, utilities can engage in load management that uses incentives and communication with certain customers that reward them for shifting their energy use from times of peak demand to times when energy is more plentiful than demand. These load management strategies come with financial benefits to the customers who engage, and utilities are happy to have a cost-effective solution to meeting demand that doesn’t continually require new capital-intensive generation to be built.
Because load management is still a bit of a niche, but growing, area of focus, engaging the Energy Central community with experts on the topic is of critical importance. As such, one of our existing Load Management experts, Michael Khachiki, agreed to be the latest participant in our Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Exclusive: ‘Getting to Know Your Experts Interview Series.’
Matt Chester: Thank you so much for being an active member of our expert community and for participating in this interview series so those community members can know better how valuable of a resource our network of experts really is. To add to that, can you start by offering a bit about your background in the industry, an overview of how you became a trusted expert, and what you work on these days?
Michael Khachiki: My initial serious involvement with energy included working on industrial waste to energy projects building anaerobic digesters in Australian and Asia and moving to working on utility scale energy development, the grid, and so on. More recently, I am working on a project called Atlantic Power Exchange which is exploring opportunities borne through the energy transition towards renewables, decentralization, and the evolution of energy system. Our prime objective is to provide the energy users more choice, access to renewable energy, and an overall positive impact through the energy ecosystem.
MC: One of your areas of focus moving forward is in the P2P energy trading and developing those resources for an increasingly distributed energy sector. What value do you see such energy trading bringing to the utility industry? What will people be missing out on if they try to buck this trend?
MK: I see the impact of Peer to Peer (P2P) energy trading analogous to eBay when it started in 1995. Before then very few companies knew about online business, had an online strategy, or even considered online presence. Now the majority of businesses in the developed economies have an online presence and engage in e-commerce. P2P energy trading will change the energy business in similar ways eBay and online trading have for general retailing. In addition, and coupled with the current renewable technologies, it will accelerate the mass adoption of clean energy technologies, benefits of which cannot be monetized.
There are many benefits to P2P trading. For example, in farming communities, a major risk is weather. Currently in Australia, the drought is affecting the farmers. However, with addition of PV on their farms the devastating impact of drought can be mitigated. This simple example highlights the benefits of the PV for one farmer but coupled with P2P energy trading it will have a magnifying effect. For example, the energy produced can be directed towards other farms which are more energy intensive, such as dairy or abattoir, without the need to engage a retailer keeping more wealth within the community with a major social impact. This is one example, but it demonstrates the multiple benefits of P2P energy trading.
MC: Distributed energy and load management practices have started to shift some of the power from the utilities to the customers. Is this a shift that you foresee being fought by the utilities, or will they find it valuable to empower their own customers in that way?
MK: This is a business model question. The Australian Energy Market Commission and various grid operators are already exploring these options. The consensus is that demand-side load management is a major opportunity that cannot be ignored.
MC: Do you have any overarching concerns about the impact of the energy sector transitioning in this way towards P2P, distributed, etc.? Does it open up issues with security, reliability, resilience, or anything else?
MK: We are already seeing compromised grid resilience affecting customers. Considering the Energy Ecosystem, the opportunities which come with P2P energy trading will improve the customer experience, reduce unpredictable demand spikes and provide more stable market dynamics which are all positives. In addition to these, P2P Energy Trading has a positive social and economic impact, one example I previously mentioned. Considering the whole equation of P2P energy trading, the positives are far greater than the negatives. In my view, P2P Energy trading will be firm part of the energy transition.
MC: As an active and trusted Energy Central expert, can you comment on what value you get from the Energy Central platform and community? How is this outlet beneficial to you and how do you try to use it to benefit the community?
MK: There are many synergies between Atlantic Power Exchange and Energy Central community. We share our ideas and perspectives with the Energy Central community and every response informs our strategies and direction. Especially with the wealth of experience and international reach of Energy Central’s expert community. We use Energy Central as our sounding board and the feedback is invaluable. It is a win-win for both.
Thanks to Michael for participating in the “Getting to Know Your Expert” interview series and for time and again showing a commitment to sharing his insights within the Energy Central community.