Enbala Blog

Alectra is Building the Business Case for Integrating Microgrids, VPPs and DERMS

By Peter Asmus on Sep 12, 2018 12:59:06 PM

Leading up to a September 17 webinar with Alectra, Navigant and Enbala, Navigant's Peter Asmus provides insights on some of the topics to be covered in the webinar. 

Alectra, the second largest municipal utility in North America, was the first utility to develop a microgrid offering for its customers. It developed a small, commercial-scale microgrid and then a utility-scale microgrid, the latter at its own headquarters at Cityview in Vaughan, Ontario. This utility-scale microgrid integrates a variety of distributed energy resources (DERs) while also featuring the ability to island, if necessary, to maintain reliability at a site that includes Alectra’s center of operations.

This utility-scale microgrid was focused on the internal optimization of these assets to create a reliable optimization network. As Alectra looks out into the future, however, it realizes that it had to build the business case to provincial regulators about why ratepayer investments in control of BTM assets provided value to all distribution network ecosystem stakeholders, including those with DERs and those without. 

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Topics: Alectra, microgrid, Distibuted energy resources, virtual power plant, DERMs

Two Sides of the Same Coin: How Enbala and Alectra Are Pushing the Energy Cloud Envelope

By Peter Asmus on Aug 23, 2018 8:40:11 AM

Guest blogger Peter Asmus of Navigant Research posts this week about virtual power plants, distributed energy resources management systems, microgrids — and the way in which Alectra is bringing them all together to meet its customers energy needs and its own grid reliability requirements. 

Electricity is a multidimensional product that requires constant fine-tuning. Otherwise, the lights go out, resulting in substantial lost economic activity. The challenge of accomplishing this task has become increasingly difficult as the fleet of distributed energy resources (DERs) begins to take over electricity resource pools. Beginning in 2018, annual centralized power resources began to give way to distributed generation and a more diverse DER mix. I noted last year that this transition was likely.

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Topics: VPP, virtual power plant, DERs, DERMs, distributed energy, Navigant Research, energy cloud, Alectra, microgrid

Changing to Clean Energy

By Malcolm Metcalfe on Mar 19, 2018 12:48:34 PM

Introduction

Science has told us that we must reduce carbon emissions if climate change is to be kept below acceptable limits. The transition has led us in many new directions. Most politicians outside the US believe that our energy supply must be based entirely on renewable energy. This alone creates a large issue, in that the electric grid supplies less than 20% of total energy needs. The proposal to replace all fossil fuel with renewable capacity would require a potentially large increase in grid capacity. Ironically, many politicians typically include nuclear generation among the sources to be eliminated. The one bit of good news is that the efficiency of electrical devices is often better than fossil fuel, and the existing grid operation using a generation following load approach results in a system that can deliver more energy.

The results to date have been frustrating, both in costs and performance, and there are many serious problems that may make a complete conversion very difficult. These challenges include a lack of grid and generation capacity to handle the added electrical load, as well as the operation of the existing grid with extensive distributed devices. 

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Topics: Distibuted energy resources, Solar energy, wind energy, DERMs, virtual power plant, renewable energy, clean energy, carbon neutral energy

Virtual Power Plants Explained

By Enbala on Feb 21, 2018 9:41:47 AM

Distributed energy resources (DERs) give us big opportunities to build cleaner and more reliable power grids, but to be optimally effective, those resources need to orchestrated so that they are aggregated, optimized and controlled for the grid services that are needed – precisely when and where they are needed.

The platforms for achieving this orchestration encompass both Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) and Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems (DERMS). Many who talk and write about these platforms use the terms interchangeably, as if one is a synonym for the other. For those of us at Enbala who have made harnessing the power of distributed energy our life’s work, we respectfully disagree. There are foundational differences that significantly impact what can – and what can’t – be done with the DERs being harnessed.

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Topics: Distibuted energy resources, virtual power plant, DERMs

TENET #3 – ACHIEVING LONG-TERM GOALS REQUIRES UNLIMITED SCALABILITY

By Michael Ratliff on Sep 26, 2017 8:50:00 AM

REDEFINING SUCCESS FOR A DISTRIBUTED ENERGY GRID: THE THREE TENETS

In our first “Three Tenets” blog we talked about the importance of speed when it comes to effectively leveraging distributed energy resources (DERs), and in the second one we wrote about the importance of accuracy. In this one we add a third dimension of criticality – scalability. From our perspective, these are by far the top three critical success factors today when it comes to successful DERMS and VPP projects and the determining factors for the long-term viability of these projects as increasingly larger numbers of distributed energy assets find their way onto the grid. There are, of course, other important factors, but many that topped the criteria list during the early phases of DER adoption have been far overshadowed in today’s world by the need for the triumvirate combination of speed, accuracy and scalability.

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Topics: Distributed energy resource management, DERMs, virtual power plant, VPP, distributed energy resources, Scalability, Elixir, Erlang

Efficiency and Cooperation

By Malcolm Metcalfe on Aug 16, 2017 8:03:00 AM

I have posted several blogs in the past few weeks, focused on the potential to improve the operation of the electric power grid, reducing losses, and driving the overall efficiency up. Some of the thoughtful comments that have been posted by readers have provided food for thought. One comment was particularly important to this discussion…

“What’s best for players individually is not what’s best for the public and for the system as a whole.”

This comment reveals an issue that may soon be a problem.

For most of the 130-year history of the electric grid, utilities have charged residential customers for energy used and have NOT charged for peak power demand, as they do for commercial and industrial accounts.

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Topics: virtual power plant, DERMs, distributed energy resources, distributed energy resource management systems, net zero home, energy efficiency

TENET #2: NEW FRONTIERS IN DER ACCURACY

By Michael Ratliff on Aug 10, 2017 8:30:00 AM

REDEFINING SUCCESS FOR A DISTRIBUTED ENERGY GRID: THE THREE TENETS

When it comes to effectively leveraging distributed energy resources (DERs), there are three critical success factors that any DER management system or Virtual Power Plant (VPP) must embody. In a previous blog we focused on Tenet #1: the importance of speed.  

In today’s blog, we address another of the top three criteria: accuracy. Just as the question “how fast is fast enough” was answered with “it depends,” so too does the question “how accurate is accurate enough” have the same response. The criticality of accuracy depends on what the distributed energy resources are being dispatched to do.  

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

Taking VPPs to the Next Level

By Peter Asmus on Jun 21, 2017 9:10:00 AM

This week, we feature guest blogger Peter Asmus of Navigant Research, who talks about virtual power plants (VPPs) and their changing role in the utility industry.

The primary goal of a virtual power plant (VPP) is to achieve the greatest possible profit for asset owners—such as a resident with rooftop solar PV coupled with batteries—while maintaining the proper balance of the electricity grid at the lowest possible economic and environmental cost. The purpose is clear, but getting to this nirvana is not easy. Nevertheless, there are clear signs that the VPP market is maturing. New partnerships are pointing the way for control software platforms that can manage distributed energy resources (DER) in creative ways.

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Topics: ABB, Enbala, Navigant Research, virtual power plant, VPPs, DERs, DERMs, DERMS, distributed energy resources,

Virtual Power Plants and the New Energy Future

By Enbala on May 25, 2017 1:05:15 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: DERMs, distributed energy resources, virtual power plant, VPPs, Navigant Research, grid balance

Distributed Energy Resources and Cybersecurity

By Enbala on Apr 12, 2017 11:26:55 AM

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, grid cybersecurity, utility cybersecurity, cyberattack, malware, utility malware, utility cyberattack, ransomeware

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