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.
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.
When it comes to planning for distributed energy resources (DERs), the State of California is one to watch. In 2015, major electric utilities submitted extensive plans for integration of distributed energy resources (DERs), with special focus on how such technologies will change planning for the last-mile distribution system and what process changes will be necessary.
Distributed energy resources (DERs) like household solar and battery storage could provide enormous support to large and small electric systems that are now threatened by rising penetration of these technologies. DERs bring new capabilities and value. But, here’s the problem. Few jurisdictions facilitate distributed energy participation in grid markets to promote grid reliability and power quality.
Anyone who’s seen the California ISO “Duck Curve” knows south-facing roof-top solar is not particularly good for utilities. The problem, which appears so clearly in the eloquent graph below, is that daily peak continues to grow, so utilities still have to build out new generation, transmission and distribution facilities. But, household solar reduces overall energy sales, and this is where most of the money comes from to pay for the new capacity. Some utilities are referring to this as the “death spiral.”