Enbala Blog

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

Automation Plus Load Control Brings Big Savings to Small C&I Customers

By Enbala on Dec 7, 2016 11:19:00 AM

Ham and eggs. Abbott and Costello. Batman and Robin. Hey, there are a lot of great duos in the world, and here’s another one: building management systems and automated demand response (DR) designed specifically for small- to medium-sized companies.

What makes this a great combo?

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Topics: DERs, demand side management, demand response, small and medium C&I customers, utility financing, building management systems

DSM opportunity finally knocking for small and medium-sized C&I customers

By Enbala on Nov 22, 2016 12:49:35 PM

 

CREATIVE FINANCING OPTIONS OPENS THE DER DOOR TO SMALLER BUSINESS CUSTOMERS

We all know the big guys – large commercial and industrial (C&I) customers – have been able to participate in wholesale markets thought demand-management programs for years. Now, small C&I customers are gaining this opportunity, too.

What gives? The financing.

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Topics: DERs, demand side management, distributed energy, Joule Assets, small and medium C&I customers, energy markets, DSM

Are you blue? Or seeing red?

By Bud Vos on Nov 10, 2016 9:39:40 AM

The U.S. election is finally over, leaving some elated and others terrified. The last several months have been polarizing and contentious, and many feel that a Trump presidency is destined to bring uncertainty to the energy industry and endanger the goal many of us share of a more sustainable energy future.

Here are my thoughts on the key reasons why I believe that the distributed energy resources (DERs) market will continue to thrive, along with the march towards an advanced energy economy. 

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Topics: distributed energy resources, DERs, renewable energy, Energy policy, Donald Trump, Clean Power Plan

Mix ‘n’ Match DERs

By Enbala on Nov 4, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Right now, analysts see enormous growth ahead for solar-plus-storage systems. A report by IMS Research forecasts the market for storing power from solar panels – which was less than $200 million in 2012 – to reach $19 billion by 2017. And, it’s easy to see why.

After all, rooftop solar panels are more valuable to people if they can store the excess energy produced and prolong the benefits of the on-site generation capacity. Plus, the flexibility of battery energy storage makes it truly valuable. With a quick response time and precise controllability, batteries can provide a wide set of grid services, so they can deliver value to multiple participants in the power system, including end-use customers, distribution utilities and wholesale market operators.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, Solar energy, battery storage, DERs, energy balance, stacked value

Adding PV to the grid: It takes more than firming

By Enbala on Oct 19, 2016 11:20:00 AM

If you’re like most people who’ve gone to a conference lately – or read this blog from its inception – you’ve already heard warnings about what could happen to grid voltage and stability when stray clouds waft over neighborhood solar arrays and block PV generation. The sudden drop of renewable power is what many people point to as the key challenge of variable generation resources.

After all, that’s why utilities are looking for ways to “firm” renewable generation, which is the process of backing variable resources up with some combination of fast-ramping power or demand-side management to jump in when power production subsides. But, while loss of power gets most of the attention, over-production is an equally daunting challenge for grid operators.

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Topics: photovoltaic, Solar, DERs, renewable firming, DERMs

Distributed Energy Resources: The Energy Efficiency Story

By Ginger Juhl on Oct 5, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Today, October 5, is the inaugural Energy Efficiency Day 2016, and the perfect time to talk about what we are doing - in conjunction with our customers - to reduce traditional energy consumption and make the world a better place for ourselves, our children and our children’s children.

Energy Efficiency Day is a collaborative effort of regional and national organizations working to promote energy efficiency, including many that we strongly support. This includes the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Advanced Energy Economy, the Regional Energy Efficiency Organizations, Appliance Standards Awareness Project, E4TheFuture, Natural Resources Defense Council, and a very long list of cities, utilities, universities, associations and companies like ours who share a common mission with sustainability at its core. You’ll see most of us writing, tweeting and otherwise sharing our energy efficiency stories today – stories about using better technology and practices so that less energy is consumed to accomplish the same tasks, while continuing to keep homes and businesses comfortable.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, DERs, distributed energy, energy efficiency

Three Best Practices for IT/OT Convergence in a Distributed Energy World

By Malcolm Metcalfe on Sep 29, 2016 1:29:20 PM

Ten years ago or so, when utility workers first started talking about IT/OT convergence, conversations revolved around the wealth of data streaming into utility offices from advanced metering infrastructure and remote sensors.

With AMI, for instance, utility engineers could suddenly see consumption in 15-minute increments, allowing them to leverage that data for things like load studies and distribution-system transformer sizing. Utility managers could use the blink counts from advanced meters to direct tree-trimming crews, letting them know there was a pretty good chance wayward branches were causing momentary outages on a feeder. Or, they could use the last-gasp signals to more quickly triangulate an outage and dispatch restoration crews more efficiently.

IT/OT convergence is what happens when IT and OT drop the silo walls to unite systems such as outage management with front-end, field technology like advanced meters or distribution system assets. But, IT/OT convergence has begun to expand as generation assets begin to proliferate behind the meter, and IT systems will be needed to help accommodate and control these assets. The convergence is becoming more complex and all-encompassing, so here are a few pointers for utility mangers to keep in mind.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, DERs, DERMs, IT/OT, IT/OT Convergence

The Energy Curtailment That Nobody Noticed

By Enbala on Sep 20, 2016 10:49:37 AM

There’s a good reason that traditional demand response (DR) programs only ask C&I customers to curtail energy usage a few times each year. Traditional DR is painful. It’s a no-holds-barred, shut down that conveyor belt, stop production, turn off the air conditioner and send people home kind of deal. It is, by definition, disruptive. And, frankly, not every organization can afford to have its business endure even a few interruptions a year.

But, DR doesn’t need to be disruptive, and to get the most out of today’s demand management technology, we really need to think of curtailment events as a day-to-day method of grid support instead of troublesome headaches that must be painfully tolerated.

That’s what one East Coast utility is doing with the Symphony by EnbalaTM distributed energy resource management platform (DERMS). By aggregating small amounts of response from many different devices in one site, a promising pilot is showing that curtailment can be both effective and invisible to customers.

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Topics: Distributed energy resource management, demand management, DERMs, demand response, energy curtailment, energy consumption management

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