Enbala Blog

This Missing Piece of the Energy Puzzle

By Malcolm Metcalfe on Mar 27, 2019 8:25:11 AM

There is no doubt that we are facing real problems with climate, fossil fuels and carbon emissions, but as we look to solve these problems, I think that we need to look carefully at the underlying facts, rather than focusing (as some do) on the short-term elimination of fossil fuel.

  1. The biggest sources of emissions in the US are the generation of electricity from coal and transportation-related emissions (60% of which is for personal transportation). These two sources are responsible for more than 2/3 of total emissions.  Canada is only slightly better, in that its electric system generates almost 60% of total energy with hydro, and nuclear is a large contributor to clean electricity as well.  Canada’s petroleum industry ranks second, behind transportation.
  2. Electricity provides less than 20% of total energy, and the remainder is almost all fossil fuel. The average person gets fuel in three forms: electricity, natural gas and transportation fuel (gasoline or diesel fuel).  Any major reduction in the direct delivery of fossil fuel will be expected to be replaced with electricity, and that may be a big challenge, given the fact that the electric grid at present delivers only about 20% of the total energy.
  3. Many people seem to think that if they can convert their current electricity use to solar energy, the problem will be solved. They tend to forget, however, about heating and transportation fuel. In most cases, the fossil fuel energy is far larger than the electrical energy delivered.
  4. I keep hearing that the problem is someone else’s fault – blame India, China, the oil industry or the government. We all need to look in the mirror – and recognize who the big users are.  The fact is that North Americans are among the largest users of energy per capita in the world.  As “Pogo” would have said, “We have seen the enemy, and it is us!”

There are two areas to look at: the supply of energy and the use of energy.

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Topics: renewable firming, demand management, wind energy, clean energy, energy curtailment, energy consumption management, energy conservation, climate change

Adding PV to the grid: It takes more than firming

By Enbala on Oct 19, 2016 9:20:00 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

DERMS: Coming Soon to Your Utility’s IT/OT Convergence

By Malcolm Metcalfe on Sep 8, 2016 11:38:22 AM

Last year, analysts at Gartner placed IT/OT convergence on their Top-10 list of trends affecting the utilities industry. Actually, it’s been in progress for nearly a decade but, now more than ever, IT/OT integration looms as a crucial utility move. What’s more, it is factors outside utility walls that are rousing such urgency. What are they? Look around your neighborhood. If you see a lot of rooftop solar panels, some of those factors are sitting right in front of you.

What’s more, GTM Research forecasts a 94 percent increase in new PV installations in the U.S. during 2016. Worldwide, Navigant Research says, “Annual installed capacity across the global distributed energy resource (DER) market is expected to grow from 136.4 GW in 2015 to 530.7 GW in 2024, representing $1.9 trillion in cumulative investment over the next 10 years." 

What does this have to do with IT/OT convergence?

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Topics: distributed energy resources, Distributed energy resource management, Solar energy, DERs, renewable firming, smart inverters, DERMs, IT/OT, IT/OT Convergence, energy aggregation

Load, the oft-overlooked distributed energy resource

By Enbala on Aug 17, 2016 12:00:00 PM

INTRODUCTION:

Researchers at DNV-GL did a fine report for the New York Independent System Operator a few years ago. Titled A Review of Distributed Energy Resources, it offered this definition of the various distributed energy resources (DERs) examined in the report:

“… DER technologies are defined as ‘behind-the-meter’ power generation and storage resources typically located on an end-use customer’s premises and operated for the purpose of supplying all or a portion of the customer’s electric load. Such resources may also be capable of injecting power into the transmission and/or distribution system or into a non-utility local network in parallel with the utility grid. These DERs include such technologies as solar photovoltaic (PV), combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration systems, microgrids, wind turbines, micro turbines, back-up generators and energy storage.”

Granted, the research team did acknowledge that some sources – including the New York Public Service Commission – included customer load in its list of DERs, but load wasn’t one of the DERs covered in the report. That’s too bad because load can hold its own against other DERs for a variety of grid-supportive purposes.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, process storage, DERs, renewable firming, demand management, DERMs, grid balance, voltage management, regulation service, flexible load, fast ramping

Sustainable Firming: Use DERs to Back Renewables

By Enbala on Feb 17, 2016 9:46:44 AM

For anyone who worries about global warming and wants to see more renewables integrated into our grids because of it, demand-side management may be about the greenest choice there is. After all, carbon dioxide accounts for 82 percent of greenhouse gases, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. And utilities are the biggest carbon polluters, responsible for some 40 percent of carbon emission, says the same source.

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Topics: DERs, renewable firming, demand management, renewable energy, clean energy

Renewable Firming with Demand Side Resources? It Can Be Done!

By Enbala on Jan 21, 2016 10:28:48 AM

 

Anyone who thinks distributed energy resources (DERs) can’t be used for time-sensitive applications like renewable firming should have a look at this article about how New Brunswick Power was able to do just that. The NB Power project was the first time load management provided renewable firming for a Canadian utility. Serving some 394,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers, NB Power is targeting 40 percent renewable generation by 2020. Firming for these variable energy resources must be in place quickly, and the project described in the article shows how the utility proved that demand-side resources could do the job.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, demand side management, renewable firming, frequency regulation, wind energy

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