Guest Interview With Keyvan Cohanim - ENBALA

How long have you worked at ENBALA?
I have been working at ENBALA since March 2012.

What is your role at ENBALA?
I am responsible for Sales and Marketing at ENBALA and, with our senior leadership team, help to drive the overall strategic direction of the company with a focus on sales, business development, marketing, strategic partnerships and new market opportunities. My team and I work closely with utilities and grid operators, providing them with new technology tools to support the modernization of the grid through the engagement of the demand side.

How long have you been involved in demand side activities?
Innovation is huge for me, and applying technology to extract value from demand-side loads to solve problems that have traditionally been addressed by generation is extremely innovative. I have been focused on technology innovation for most of my professional life, so it was a natural progression for me to move into the energy and smart grid industry. A smarter grid not only improves efficiency and reliability, it also facilitates a greener one, and encouraging sustainability is essential for our community and its future. My involvement in the energy industry over the past several years has included a focus on demand-side energy choices and efficiency, as well as new renewable generation technologies. I continue to work with adjacent companies as a cleantech advisor to stay abreast of new innovations in demand management and energy supply.

What challenges have you faced as a DR professional within your organization and within the industry?
Introducing new concepts to an industry that has been working well for the past 100 years is a challenge. However, the earth is shifting beneath us with changes happening in the power system at an increasing rate, such as new generation technologies, shifting demand patterns, and constant challenges to delivering reliable power. While the industry focuses on adapting to these ongoing challenges by upgrading and hardening infrastructure for example, there is an untapped resource in the form of process storage from demand-side loads that if captured, can provide significant value to the operation of the power system. This represents a tremendous opportunity to the industry. Explaining and demonstrating how assets that already exist in the power system can provide this value without disrupting production is a key focus of ours. The magnitude of value that this innovative approach represents is what really excites me.

What changes have you seen in the industry as it relates to DR and EE over the last few years?
The number of people, companies, and technologies that are now offering solutions related to DR and EE is vast. Over the past five years alone, focus on delivering new methods to achieve EE has greatly accelerated. Power systems and their operators have not anticipated the surpluses that are being identified. And, at a cultural level, kids are now demonstrating to their parents how to use electricity more efficiently and how to conserve energy.

With regards to demand response, the industry is beginning to recognize the potential and role that the demand side can play in a more efficient, reliable and cost-effective power system. Ancillary services are crucial to a reliable grid. Having started with emergency capacity measures, today it is becoming more evident how significant real-time, non-disruptive methods of contributing value to the power system’s operation are becoming to grid management and optimization. The future of demand-side management includes connecting process loads within commercial and industrial facilities to the grid in a continuous, real-time fashion. A single network of loads can provide value to grid management in various ways, such as supporting the optimization of generators, helping to integrate renewable resources and balance supply with demand, and increasing the overall efficiency of the power system. By applying technology to use loads as a dispatchable resource that is on par with generation, costs can be reduced and deferred, efficiencies improved and emissions lowered.

What do you expect to be the biggest challenge with implementing DR in the next decade?
Frankly, using traditional emergency demand response as capacity relief in the traditional manner is a somewhat crude implementation to solve a complex problem. Disrupting production or comfort is not the most convenient or efficient way to address energy capacity that is not available when needed. So, what if you could expand the role of the demand side to provide real-time, continuous value to match power system requirements over time? Convincing facilities that their loads can provide value without disrupting their own production is a challenge but would be tremendously valuable going forward. The challenge of convincing companies and residential consumers that this value can be extracted and delivered with little investment of time or complexity to them is real. The trick lies in the ability to deploy technology in as seamless a manner as possible. And, that is the value of the evolving sophistication of technology that has become available today.

By making load as important as generation, flexibility is delivered to the operation of a power system. The industry must stay on top of and understand the potential that exists within the demand side. Taking advantage of innovative demand-side management solutions requires education, experience, non-disruptive deployment and perhaps a more aggressive adoption curve of technology than we in this industry may be accustomed to.

What advice or guidance would you give to young professionals who are considering a career in demand response and smart grid?
Get ready to work in an industry that is moving and changing quickly, at a much faster rate than in the past. Look forward to making a difference in how the power system is evolving. A career in demand response and smart grid will provide you with an opportunity to educate and innovate. There are so many moving parts so being able to stay abreast of the changing environment and complexity will allow you to embrace this change and lead it. There is tremendous potential and opportunity to drive further innovation. We have just scratched the surface on the role of the demand side and how technology can be applied to evolve to a truly smart grid. If you are up for the challenge, this is the place to be!

© 2016 Solar Electric Power Association    ::     1220 19th Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, D.C., 20036    ::   contact us

Periodic updates on news & events related to demand response and smart grid.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software