CleanTech Terms Explained: Peak Shaving

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CleanTech Terms Explained: Peak Shaving

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CleanTech Terms Explained: Peak Shaving

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CleanTech Terms Explained: Peak Shaving

CleanTech is an umbrella term that refers to an array of environmentally-friendly technologies and practices aimed at reducing carbon emissions and protecting the planet. One of the most common terms in CleanTech is peak shaving, which refers to a practical energy-saving strategy that can help businesses and homeowners save money, reduce their carbon footprint, and improve the reliability of the electric grid.

Understanding Peak Shaving

Peak shaving is a technique of reducing the amount of energy used during peak demand periods, when the electricity grid experiences the highest levels of strain. By reducing the need for energy during these times, peak shaving can help prevent power outages and blackouts while reducing demand on the grid. This is achieved by using energy storage systems, demand response programs, and distributed generation.

Definition of Peak Shaving

In simple terms, peak shaving is the process of decreasing the amount of energy used at times when electricity grid demand is highest. This can reduce overall energy costs, while also improving grid reliability, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Importance of Peak Shaving in CleanTech

Peak shaving is an essential strategy in CleanTech, as it helps reduce the need for traditional, fossil fuel-powered peak load generators. Furthermore, because peak energy demand is often driven by events such as heatwaves or extreme weather, peak shaving can also help reduce the impact of climate change by reducing carbon emissions.

How Peak Shaving Reduces Energy Costs

By reducing the amount of energy used during peak periods, you can cut back on demand charges or high-priced time-of-use rates that can often cause significant spikes in energy bills. This can result in lower costs, especially if demand charges represent a significant proportion of your energy bills.

One way that peak shaving can reduce energy costs is by using energy storage systems. These systems can store excess energy during off-peak hours and release it during peak demand periods, reducing the need to draw energy from the grid. This can help avoid expensive peak demand charges and reduce overall energy costs.

Another way that peak shaving can reduce energy costs is through the use of demand response programs. These programs incentivize energy users to reduce their energy consumption during peak demand periods. By voluntarily reducing their energy usage, these users can receive financial rewards or other incentives. This can help reduce the overall demand on the grid and prevent the need for expensive peak load generators.

Distributed generation is also an important aspect of peak shaving. By generating energy locally, at or near the point of consumption, distributed generation can help reduce the need for energy to be transmitted over long distances. This can help reduce energy losses and improve grid reliability, while also reducing the need for expensive peak load generators.

Peak Shaving Technologies

The following are some of the most common technologies used in peak shaving:

Energy Storage Systems

Energy storage systems are a type of CleanTech technology designed to store excess energy and discharge it during peak periods when it's most needed. This includes batteries, flywheels, and capacitors. Energy storage systems enable businesses to reduce demand during peak demand times without compromising production efficiency, while households can use these same systems to power lights and heating systems during hours of peak grid demand.

One example of an energy storage system is a lithium-ion battery. These batteries are commonly used in electric vehicles, but they can also be used to store energy for buildings or homes. During off-peak hours, the battery is charged with excess energy from the grid or from renewable sources like solar panels. During peak hours, the stored energy is used to power the building or home, reducing the demand on the grid.

Demand Response Programs

Demand response programs are a tool used by utilities to reward customers for cutting back on their energy use during peak periods. Essentially, customers receive notifications from the utility and can opt to reduce their energy use in exchange for a reduction in energy bills. Demand response programs are highly effective in reducing energy demand during peak periods, thus reducing peak load stress on the grid.

One example of a demand response program is a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats can learn a household's energy use patterns and automatically adjust the temperature to reduce energy use during peak hours. Some utilities offer rebates or credits to customers who install smart thermostats in their homes.

Distributed Generation

Distributed generation refers to the production of electricity at or near the point where it is used, rather than being transmitted through power lines. This might involve generating electricity from renewable resources such as solar or wind energy, or from backup generators, or from fuel cells. Distributed generation is a highly efficient way of reducing energy demand, reducing carbon emissions, and contributing to the reliability of the electric grid.

One example of distributed generation is a microgrid. A microgrid is a small-scale power grid that can operate independently of the main grid. It might include a combination of renewable energy sources, energy storage systems, and backup generators. Microgrids can provide reliable power to critical facilities like hospitals or military bases, even during power outages or other disruptions to the main grid.

Another example of distributed generation is a community solar project. Community solar projects allow multiple households or businesses to share the benefits of a single solar installation. This can be especially beneficial for households or businesses that are unable to install solar panels on their own properties due to shading, roof orientation, or other factors.

Benefits of Peak Shaving

Lower Energy Bills

One of the most significant benefits of peak shaving is lower energy bills. Because demand charges can make up a large percentage of energy bills, especially for commercial and industrial clients, peak shaving can unlock substantial cost savings. These savings can be put towards maintaining renewable energy technology and investing in further CleanTech solutions for the business.

Reduced Strain on the Grid

Because peak shaving can help reduce energy demand during times of peak demand, it can help reduce the strain on the electricity grid. This can prevent power outages, enhance grid stability, and reduce the need for additional energy infrastructure investments.

Environmental Advantages

Perhaps the biggest advantage of peak shaving is its environmental benefits. By reducing the use of traditional, fossil fuel-powered peak load generators during peak periods, peak shaving can significantly reduce carbon emissions, contributing to the fight against climate change.

Implementing Peak Shaving Solutions

Assessing Your Energy Needs

Before implementing peak shaving techniques, it's essential to identify which techniques will work best for your specific energy needs. Evaluating your energy consumption patterns and contacting an energy efficiency expert can help determine the best approach.

Choosing the Right Technology

Choosing the right technology is another crucial step in implementing peak shaving techniques. This will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of establishment, the appliances used, and electricity consumption patterns. It's important to consult with an energy expert to identify which technology works best for your needs.

Monitoring and Adjusting Your Peak Shaving Strategy

After implementing a peak shaving strategy, it's important to monitor its effects continually. This involves tracking energy consumption patterns and adjusting the strategy to provide maximum savings while minimizing any negative effects of peak shaving. An energy expert can also help make recommendations as to what adjustments might be needed to improve the strategy's effectiveness over the long term.


Peak shaving is an essential CleanTech strategy that can help reduce energy costs, improve grid reliability, and reduce carbon emissions. With the right combination of tools and technologies, businesses and households can implement peak shaving techniques that significantly reduce energy demand and costs, while promoting long-term sustainability. Whether using energy storage systems, demand response programs, or distributed generation, peak shaving is a crucial strategy in the fight against climate change and the promotion of CleanTech solutions.