Enbala Blog

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

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.

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

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

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

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
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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?  

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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.

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

An Investment in Distributed Energy Resource Management Beyond the Grid Edge

By Rick Nicholson on Feb 28, 2017 12:00:00 PM

This week's blog is authored by Rick Nicholson, Global Product Management and Marketing, Enterprise Software, for ABB. We asked Rick to provide his insights on ABB's newly announced investment in Enbala. 

ABB recently announced an investment in Enbala, made through ABB’s venture capital unit, ABB Technology Ventures.  The announcement also mentioned that ABB and Enbala are joining forces to develop a new distributed energy resource management system (DERMS). The joint solution will combine the benefits of Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS) and DERMS to enable utilities, energy service companies and grid operators to efficiently manage the entire lifecycle of distributed energy resources, like solar, batteries and wind, while ensuring the safe, secure and efficient operation of the electric distribution network. It will also enable more active participation from energy consumers.

A stronger, smarter, greener grid

Why did ABB make this investment and choose to partner with Enbala to develop a DERMS solution? The answer to this question is based on the current state and expected evolution of distributed energy resource management. 

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Topics: ABB, DERMs, distributed energy resources, Distributed energy resource management, ADMS, advanced distribution management system, VPP, virtual power plant

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.

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Topics: DERs, distributed energy resources

Energy Policies Aimed at 100% Renewables are Well Intended… But Perhaps Misguided…

By Enbala on Feb 17, 2017 9:48:51 AM

Cities around the world, including 22 cities in the United States and a growing number in Canada have pledged to go 100% renewable. It’s a noble, collaborative effort to be the cleanest, most environmentally sustainable cities on the planet, with an ultimate and cumulative end goal of each city doing its part to reduce worldwide carbon emissions.

Many cities that have made the pledge don’t yet have a route to an all-renewables, carbon-free destination. Some don’t have ownership of their electricity providers and thus have little or no influence over power fuel sources. Others depend today on energy sources that are based almost entirely on fossil fuel, making the renewables transition particularly difficult.  Still others are dealing with high permitting costs for popular renewable options like rooftop solar, as well with other regulatory obstacles. Technologically, anyone switching to a renewables-based grid must, by default, deal with the intermittency and reliability issues imposed by wind and solar. Even hydro electric energy is generally limited by the amount of water flowing in rivers, a quantity that can vary significantly over time.

A broader question, however, is why a fully renewable grid is more desirable than any other combination of zero-carbon energy sources. And what the overall effort and cost would be to decarbonize via that pathway alone.

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Topics: renewable energy, carbon emissions, clean energy, distributed energy, distributed energy resources, Solar energy, wind energy, CHP, combined heat and power

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