Enbala Blog

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.

Read More

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

Can DERs Play Too?

By Deborah Hazebroek on Jul 18, 2018 2:06:59 PM

The Question

The world is changing. This isn’t news, of course. In fact, it’s rather old news – the world has changed. And the composition of the power grid has changed along with it. More roofs have solar panels. More garages house electric vehicles. The devices consumers plug into outlets have radically different load profiles than the devices of previous generations. Today there is an increased prevalence of wind farms, smart inverters, batteries and many other distributed energy resources (DERs) at the grid edge.

All these DERs offer tremendous potential through control and optimization. But while this capability presents copious opportunities, it also creates a few headaches, particularly for grid operators, often miles away (literally and figuratively) from where the DERs are located.

Yet DERs are becoming so entrenched in the daily operations of the grid that it’s tempting to ponder just where their limitations lay. With advancements in technology and business models, many innovators are looking to increase value from DERs, which leads to the latest question surrounding the capabilities of these assets: Can DERs play in utility and wholesale markets?

Read More

Topics: VPP, DERs, virtual power plant, distributed energy

Could Virtual Power Plants Make Utilities the Uber of Distributed Energy Resources?

By Enbala on Sep 8, 2017 2:44:59 PM

It’s been said that analogy is a powerful force when it comes to innovation. It creates an environment where it’s easier for people to apply knowledge from one domain that they already understand to another that they don’t understand quite as well and thus make it, too, easier to grasp. 

Uber is a prime example of analogy taken, perhaps, to the extreme. It would be tough to estimate the number of companies that have come into being recently aiming or claiming to be the “Uber for ....” you fill in the blank. There’s an “Uber for errand running,” an “Uber for pet care,” an “Uber for tool rental,” an “Uber for grocery (and alcohol) delivery,” an “Uber for finding parking spaces…”  You get the picture.

Read More

Topics: virtual power plant, distributed energy resources, Uber, DERs

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.  

Read More

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.

Read More

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

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

By J.T. Thompson on May 9, 2017 8:00:00 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
Read More

Topics: NOPR, FERC, DERs, frequency regulation, demand response, energy storage, distributed energy resources

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?  

Read More

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

survey reveals interesting trends in distributed energy

By Ginger Juhl on Mar 16, 2017 2:35:26 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.

Read More

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

Distributed Energy Resources 101: Required Reading for a Modern Grid

By Enbala on Feb 22, 2017 9:11:00 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.

Read More

Topics: DERs, distributed energy resources

Transitioning the Energy Economy: One Very Logical Approach

By Malcolm Metcalfe on Jan 18, 2017 12:58:53 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.

Read More

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

Subscribe to Blog Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all