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Building for speed as well as a reliability is a perennial challenge for the energy industry.

Demand response has been around for decades, as a way for utilities to manage emergency overloads in electricity demand. But with a growing number of renewable and therefore intermittent generators being incorporated into the grid, demand response may take on a very different role.

Honeywell is actively working on developing automated demand response technology that would enable greater integration of renewable generation by allowing utilities to respond within minutes to changes in generations.

The idea, President of Honeywell Building Solutions Paul Orzeske told Breaking Energy, is to make renewables–which may stop producing electricity when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining–practical in a smart grid world.

His goal: “making them really a drop-in replacement for conventional generation.”

The American grid, he said, was never designed for the “massive variation” in electrical supply that renewables would bring. He warns that without adequate demand response technology, the power grid will have to compensate for intermittent generators with additional thermal plants, an ironic consequence of incorporating renewables that are intended to lower carbon emissions.

“You can’t have a renewables policy in a vacuum,” he said.

And with energy storage still not viable on a large scale, the only option, he said, for incorporating renewables and compensating for that intermittent generation is to set up a system that can shed load easily.

The Honeywell demand response technology works with industrial, commercial and residential customers to set up automated shed events that would make sense for individual needs.

For example, a shopping mall may allow a certain percentage of load to be reduced every weekday during slow hours, while an elementary school would allow for load reduction during evenings and weekends. If a consumer chooses to override the demand response load reduction, for whatever reason, they would have to pay for it.

“In our view,” Orzeske said,” you have to empower [the consumers], on a real time basis to take control.”