A Critical Exploration of the Efficiency Impacts of Demand Response From HVAC in Commercial Buildings
Increasing quantities of renewable energy generation has yielded a need for greater energy storage capacity in power systems. Thermal storage in variable air volume (VAV) heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) in commercial buildings has been identified as an inexpensive source of grid storage, but the true costs are not known. Recent literature explores the inefficiency associated with providing grid services from these HVAC-based demand response (DR) resources by employing a battery analogy to calculate round-trip efficiency (RTE). Results vary significantly across studies and in some cases reported efficiencies are strikingly low. This article has three objectives to address these prior results. First, we synthesize and expand on insights into existing literature by systematically exploring the potential causes for the discrepancies in results. We reinforce previous work indicating baseline modeling may drive differences across studies and deduce that control accuracy plays a role in the major differences between experiments and simulation. Second, we discuss why the RTE metric is problematic for DR applications, discuss another proposed metric, additional energy consumption (AEC), and propose an extension, which we call uninstructed energy consumption (UEC), to evaluate DR performance. Finally, we explore the merits of different metrics using experimental data and highlight UEC's reduced sensitivity to the characteristics of the DR signal than previously proposed metrics.