Enbala Blog

Load, the oft-overlooked distributed energy resource

By Enbala on Aug 17, 2016 2:00:00 PM

INTRODUCTION:

Researchers at DNV-GL did a fine report for the New York Independent System Operator a few years ago. Titled A Review of Distributed Energy Resources, it offered this definition of the various distributed energy resources (DERs) examined in the report:

“… DER technologies are defined as ‘behind-the-meter’ power generation and storage resources typically located on an end-use customer’s premises and operated for the purpose of supplying all or a portion of the customer’s electric load. Such resources may also be capable of injecting power into the transmission and/or distribution system or into a non-utility local network in parallel with the utility grid. These DERs include such technologies as solar photovoltaic (PV), combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration systems, microgrids, wind turbines, micro turbines, back-up generators and energy storage.”

Granted, the research team did acknowledge that some sources – including the New York Public Service Commission – included customer load in its list of DERs, but load wasn’t one of the DERs covered in the report. That’s too bad because load can hold its own against other DERs for a variety of grid-supportive purposes.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, process storage, DERs, renewable firming, demand management, DERMs, grid balance, voltage management, regulation service, flexible load, fast ramping

Capturing the Full Benefits of Demand Flexibility

By Ginger Juhl on Aug 11, 2016 11:00:00 AM

This blog was co-authored by Enbala and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). Enbala extends its heartfelt thanks to the Institute for the insights and effort that went into creating this piece. 

INTRODUCTION:

Demand flexibility - allowing household devices like HVAC systems and smart appliances to interact with the electric grid in response to real-time price changes - can save customers money and lower the overall cost of electricity. The Rocky Mountain Institute's recent paper, The Economics of Demand Flexibility, analyzed the economics of making common household loads controllable and responsive to electricity price signals. The Institute found that just making two devices flexible, i.e., smart thermostats that could flex an HVAC system’s output up or down by 2 degrees and smart water heaters that could change the timing of water heating, could lower system-wide peak demand by eight percent and save $10–15 billion in costs to the grid annually. 

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Topics: Distributed energy resource management, Solar energy, battery storage, DERs, demand management, DERMs, peak load management, demand flexibility, Symphony by Enbala, Rocky Mountain Institute, distributed energy

Fight, flight or innovate: How will utilities deal with DERs?

By Malcolm Metcalfe on Aug 3, 2016 4:06:42 PM

INTRODUCTION:

Fight or flight may be the two most common reactions mammals have when facing a threat, but for utilities that perceive distributed energy resources (DERs) as risky to business, there’s another option: innovate.

The rapid pace of disruption

Tony Seba, a clean-technology thought leader, author and Stanford University instructor, believes that the age of what he calls “participatory energy” – user-centric generation, storage, management and energy-market participation – will eclipse the utility-centric model of today by 2030.  

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Topics: distributed energy resources, DERs, utility of the future, utility innovation

What if Disruptive Energy Technology Achieved 1% of Apple’s iMac numbers?

By J.T. Thompson on Jul 26, 2016 11:00:00 AM

On one of my many travels recently, I got a chance to catch up on some movies that I had been meaning to watch.  One of those movies was “Steve Jobs.”  This movie, starring Michael Fassbender, gives an inside look at one of the true innovators of our time. 

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Topics: distributed energy resources, Distributed energy resource management, DERs

Demand-side resources are key to system flexibility

By Malcolm Metcalfe on Jul 19, 2016 1:00:00 PM

The National Renewable Energy Lab has a great paper titled Flexibility in 21st Century Power Systems. The paper addresses three grid requirements to accommodate increasing numbers of variable generation resources like wind and solar energy.

  1. The first among those requirements is flexible generation. We need power plants that can run efficiently with a very low output level and ramp rapidly from those deep turn-down rates.
  2. We also need flexible transmission to carry power without bottlenecks and facilitate access to a broad range of balancing resources. That’s requirement number two.
  3. And, finally, the NREL authors say requirement number three is flexible demand-side resources. Those resources include storage, responsive distributed generation and loads engaged in demand response programs that can support the grid by responding to market signals or direct load control.

Amen to requirement number three.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, Distributed energy resource management, DERs, demand side management, DERMs, demand response

It’s Time to Ditch Disruption in Demand Response

By Enbala on Jul 6, 2016 11:00:00 AM

According to FERC’s most recent "Demand Response and Advanced Metering Assessment," 74 percent of the potential peak reduction in retail demand-management programs comes from C&I customers. That means that the biggest, most valuable energy customers are also the most likely  allies in a demand response initiative.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, Distributed energy resource management, DERs, demand side management, DERMs, demand response

Behind-the-meter grid support: Past, present and future

By Enbala on Jun 29, 2016 11:48:37 AM

Demand side management (DSM) is the umbrella term for the various methods that power providers employ to get customers to curb consumption. It’s been around since the 1970s, notes Joseph Eto, a Lawrence Berkeley National Lab researcher who wrote a detailed history of it in 1996. He counts conservation education, energy audits, efficiency freebies, financial assistance and time-based tariffs among the forms of DSM utilities use.

Eto also covers the technological approaches designed to achieve objectives like load shifting, peak reduction and off-peak consumption increases.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, Distributed energy resource management, DERs, demand side management, demand response, utility of the future

The Art of Persuasion: Studies that Can Help You Recruit DERs

By Enbala on Jun 8, 2016 5:28:20 PM

Every demand response program, every virtual power plant, every distributed energy resource (DER) management system needs one thing to be successful: customers who are willing to hand over their DER controls. Given that participant recruitment is such an important factor in a DER management program’s success, it can’t hurt to bone up on the art of persuasion.

That’s easy to do with The Small Big, a business book that looks at several different studies on how to coax others to do the things you want them to do. Its authors include Robert Cialdini, who wrote Influence, a business psychology text that has been on Fortune’s list of the 75 Smartest Business Books for years. Influence boils down the art of persuasion into six key motivators.

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Topics: DERs, demand management, demand response, customer persuasion

Up, Down, All Around: Maximizing Demand-Side Resources

By Enbala on Jun 2, 2016 6:03:53 PM

For too many people, demand-side management (DSM) of energy resources means one thing: shedding load. That’s a limiting and outdated view of DSM.

Given the right control platform, Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) can move their power consumption up or down to support the needs of the power system. To get the benefit of that flexibility, you need to think of all DERs – even loads – as resources that can be charged up the same way you charge a battery energy storage system. 

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Topics: distributed energy resources, DERs, demand response, load shedding, Metcalfe's Law

Why Voltage Support Should Be Local

By Malcolm Metcalfe on May 12, 2016 10:30:00 AM

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: Utilities deliver three things: voltage, frequency and reliability. The first two items impact the third. And, frequency – at least in an interconnected system with plenty of inertia like what we have in continental North America – is pretty easy to manage because it’s the same throughout the power system. Here in the Western interconnection where I live, that means the frequency is the same in Denver, Las Vegas, San Diego and Vancouver, BC.

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Topics: Solar energy, DERMs, reactive power, Voltage control

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