Enbala Blog

Virtual Power Plants and the New Energy Future

By Enbala on May 25, 2017 3:05:15 PM

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Virtual power plants or VPPs are one of the hottest topics in the energy industry today. In fact, investments in VPPs are expected to total over $68.6 billion by 2025 -- this according to Navigant Research, who has published a new white paper on the topic. 

Software advancements are enabling greatly expanded capabilities in the distributed energy resources (DERs) that can be aggregated into VPPs, which are now capable of responding to the needs of the power grid at the sub-second speeds required for instantaneous grid balancing. 

Titled Stacking Values with Virtual Power Plants in Today's Digital Power Grid: Moving Distributed Networked Energy Into the Mainstream, the paper was authored by Navigant's Peter Asmus and covers:

  • The expansion and convergence of VPP market segments
  • New distributed energy resource architectures
  • Physical VPP grid and market interaction values
  • ROIs on VPPs
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Topics: distributed energy resources, DERMs, grid balance, virtual power plant, Navigant Research, VPPs

A commentary on the FERC NOPR to Integrate More DERs into Organized Markets

By J.T. Thompson on May 9, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Opening the Distributed Energy Doors is a Win-Win

In November of last year, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) around electric storage resources. The goal was to better allow these distributed energy resources (DERs) to compete in the various wholesale markets.  Per their November press release, FERC’s NOPR would require that RTOs/ISOs:

  • Establish a participation model consisting of market rules that, recognizing the physical and operational characteristics of electric storage resources, accommodate their participation in the organized wholesale electric markets
  • Define distributed energy resource aggregators as a type of market participant that can participate in the organized wholesale electric markets under the participation model that best accommodates the physical and operational characteristics of its distributed energy resource aggregation
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Topics: distributed energy resources, DERs, frequency regulation, demand response, FERC, energy storage, NOPR

Disrupting the Status Quo…  Thinking Out of the Box

By Malcolm Metcalfe on May 4, 2017 10:58:22 AM

A few days ago, I listened to a group of environmentalists on the evening news protesting a plan to build a new bridge that would solve traffic congestion and make it easier for people get in and out of a local large city. The protestors wanted the money spent instead on public transit, claiming that this options had not even been examined, and arguing that their solution would solve the transportation problem without requiring construction of new infrastructure.

I looked more closely at both alternatives. The government and the consultants retained to propose solutions to the problem had advanced several standard options, all of which revolved around either a bridge or a tunnel, while the environmentalists had extended the options by one – adding public transit as a means to achieve a similar result.

This seemed logical until I started thinking about the need to add one other criteria to the equation: the need to reduce carbon emissions. 

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Topics: grid optimization, energy consumption management, distributed energy, Electric vehicles, disruptive thinking, public transit, innovation

Distributed Energy Resources and Cybersecurity

By Enbala on Apr 12, 2017 1:26:55 PM

STRENGTHENING YOUR DEFENSES

It seems like almost everyone has had some sort of personal experience with hacking, cyberattacks or malware these days, either at work or at home – and, for many, both.  But did you know that Symantec, the cybersecurity software giant, discovered more than 430 million new unique pieces of malware in 2015 alone?  That was up 36 percent from the previous year, and the numbers keep growing.   

Anyone in the utility industry is also aware that utilities are a target for cyberattacks, but did you realize that hackers target utilities more than any other part of the U.S. critical infrastructure or that there are more reported cyber incidents in the energy industry than in healthcare, finance, transportation, water and communications combined?  

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Topics: distributed energy resources, DERs, DERMs, utility cybersecurity, cyberattack, utility malware, grid cybersecurity, malware, utility cyberattack, ransomeware

survey reveals interesting trends in distributed energy

By Ginger Juhl on Mar 16, 2017 4:35:26 PM

There are many drivers for investing in distributed energy resources, but it’s always interesting to take the pulse of the industry to assess current thinking. Last month Enbala took advantage of the large number of utilities attending DistribuTECH 2017 in San Diego and asked attendees to weigh in on which utilities are investing in distributed energy resources (DERs), what types of DERs are in the mix and key factors underpinning successful integration of DERs. More than 100 attendees took the survey, whose results uncovered some very interesting facts about where the industry is today and where it might be heading.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, DERs, DERMs, utillity survey

An Investment in Distributed Energy Resource Management Beyond the Grid Edge

By Rick Nicholson on Feb 28, 2017 2:00:00 PM

This week's blog is authored by Rick Nicholson, Global Product Management and Marketing, Enterprise Software, for ABB. We asked Rick to provide his insights on ABB's newly announced investment in Enbala. 

ABB recently announced an investment in Enbala, made through ABB’s venture capital unit, ABB Technology Ventures.  The announcement also mentioned that ABB and Enbala are joining forces to develop a new distributed energy resource management system (DERMS). The joint solution will combine the benefits of Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS) and DERMS to enable utilities, energy service companies and grid operators to efficiently manage the entire lifecycle of distributed energy resources, like solar, batteries and wind, while ensuring the safe, secure and efficient operation of the electric distribution network. It will also enable more active participation from energy consumers.

A stronger, smarter, greener grid

Why did ABB make this investment and choose to partner with Enbala to develop a DERMS solution? The answer to this question is based on the current state and expected evolution of distributed energy resource management. 

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Topics: distributed energy resources, Distributed energy resource management, DERMs, virtual power plant, ABB, VPP, ADMS, advanced distribution management system

Distributed Energy Resources 101: Required Reading for a Modern Grid

By Enbala on Feb 22, 2017 11:11:00 AM

Today's blog was written by our friends at the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). We thank them for their insights, their hard work in compiling this compendium and for letting us share these valuable resources with our readers. 

Keeping up with the influx of new information on distributed energy resources (DERs) can be daunting. DERs are physical and virtual assets that are deployed across the distribution grid, typically close to load, and usually behind the meter, which can be used individually or in aggregate to provide value to the grid, individual customers, or both. A particular industry interest seems to be centered on DERs — such as solar, storage, energy efficiency, and demand management — that can be aggregated to provide services to the electric grid.

The energy industry’s focus on DERs is a function of how important it’s become to understand the potential capabilities they have to offer. In 2015, U.S. electric utilities spent $103 billion in capital expenditures to maintain and upgrade the grid — and they now expect average annual spending of around $100 billion through 2018, even as growth in electricity demand slows.

These two trends combined could raise retail rates significantly for electricity customers, as much as 15% to 30% through 2030, according to one study. To modernize the grid for two-way energy flows and incorporate new, connected technologies, while maintaining minimal rate impacts, all available resources, including DERs, need to be put to best use.

To reach this goal, we need to start with a common base of foundational knowledge on DERs -- key articles and resources that are easily available to all stakeholders -- which is the purpose behind this piece.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, DERs

Energy Policies Aimed at 100% Renewables are Well Intended… But Perhaps Misguided…

By Enbala on Feb 17, 2017 11:48:51 AM

Cities around the world, including 22 cities in the United States and a growing number in Canada have pledged to go 100% renewable. It’s a noble, collaborative effort to be the cleanest, most environmentally sustainable cities on the planet, with an ultimate and cumulative end goal of each city doing its part to reduce worldwide carbon emissions.

Many cities that have made the pledge don’t yet have a route to an all-renewables, carbon-free destination. Some don’t have ownership of their electricity providers and thus have little or no influence over power fuel sources. Others depend today on energy sources that are based almost entirely on fossil fuel, making the renewables transition particularly difficult.  Still others are dealing with high permitting costs for popular renewable options like rooftop solar, as well with other regulatory obstacles. Technologically, anyone switching to a renewables-based grid must, by default, deal with the intermittency and reliability issues imposed by wind and solar. Even hydro electric energy is generally limited by the amount of water flowing in rivers, a quantity that can vary significantly over time.

A broader question, however, is why a fully renewable grid is more desirable than any other combination of zero-carbon energy sources. And what the overall effort and cost would be to decarbonize via that pathway alone.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, Solar energy, renewable energy, wind energy, clean energy, distributed energy, CHP, carbon emissions, combined heat and power

Transitioning the Energy Economy: One Very Logical Approach

By Malcolm Metcalfe on Jan 18, 2017 2:58:53 PM

Canada’s Prime Minister made a statement recently that caused some problems in parts of Canada. The comment -- “We need to phase out fossil fuel…” -- has raised strong opposition in Alberta, the province that has largely powered the Canadian economy in recent years, based almost entirely on fossil fuel.

Confusing messages are being delivered. Science has told us that we need to REDUCE EMISSIONS. Emissions can be reduced in two ways: use less fuel or use it more efficiently. Politicians, almost uniformly, seem to have decided that the solution is to eliminate fossil fuel and replace it with renewable energy. This transition may be a lot more difficult, time consuming and costly than it may initially appear.

Ontario is perhaps one good example. A large expenditure in wind capacity seems linked to very high electricity prices in the very areas where the wind turbines are located. Germany has seen dramatic increases in electricity costs as the country has increased its use of solar and wind capacity to generate electricity.

The electric system seems to be a scapegoat, largely because in the US, it is the single largest source of emissions. Yet it delivers only a fraction of the energy needed to meet the total energy required.

Surely there is a better way to reduce emissions without producing disruptive cost increases and heavy restrictions on supply.

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Topics: DERs, clean energy, distributed energy, energy efficiency, fossil fuel emissions, energy conservation

What's Coming? The Power of Distributed Energy in a Modern Grid

By Bud Vos on Jan 5, 2017 11:30:00 AM

It’s a new year, folks, and time to learn from the ups and downs of the previous 12 months and set a course for a successful 2017.  We spent some time at the end of 2016 working with Edison Foundation’s Institute for Electric Innovation (IEI) on a book titled “Thought Leaders Speak Out: Key Trends Driving Change in the Electric Power Industry.”  Enbala’s contribution was a chapter exploring the future of distributed energy in a modern grid.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, DERs, DERMs, utility future

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