Enbala Blog

The 20/20 of 2020: What Will We See in the Rearview Mirror?

By Ginger Juhl on Jul 9, 2020 12:34:59 PM

I think it’s safe to say that, with the possible exception of a psychic or two who claim to have predicted the global pandemic that we’re all hoping would stop plaguing us, none of us had any idea that 2020 would be turned on its ear by a virus we’d never heard of a few short months ago. We’re all wondering what the short- and long-term impacts will be on all aspects of our lives, and at Enbala, we’ve been studying, pondering and prognosticating what the impact will be on the world’s evolution to distributed energy resources — and a greener, more sustainable energy future.

  • Will business and residential customers continue to demand clean energy alternatives, and how will the answer to this question impact the market for renewables?
  • How long will overall reductions in electricity demand persist, and how will the ramifications impact short- and long-term energy costs and the impact of these costs as drivers for cleaner energy alternatives?
  • Can an increased focus on distributed energy resources help speed recovery from the pandemic?
  • How will on-again, off-again stay-at-home orders and summer high-demand expectations impact grid reliability/stability, and how can distributed energy resources help?

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Topics: clean energy, distributed energy, Renewables, COVID-19

How DERs Support Grid Resiliency in California

By Lana Gonoratsky on May 29, 2020 9:00:00 AM

In 1994, California restructured its electricity market, introducing competition as a theoretical means to bring down the price of power. The end-goal was to help revive an economy that was struggling due to a blend of issues, including high energy costs that were driving major manufacturing companies to leave the state, taking jobs and expendable income with them.

But despite good intentions, the restructured system lacked normal power market stabilizers. This, coupled with sharp, adverse changes in supply and demand, led to opportunistic (and occasionally illegal) behavior from out-of-state energy traders that caused power shortages, extreme price spikes and rolling blackouts during the infamous California Electricity Crisis of 2000-01.

A decade later, as California’s two major utilities teetered on bankruptcy and immense uncertainty, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) established a policy framework in 2004 to prevent this from happening again. The resulting Resource Adequacy (RA) program created the rules for how load-serving entities (LSEs) contract for electricity capacity to ensure demand is met in case of an unexpected event.

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Topics: DERs, distributed energy, resource adequacy, proxy demand response

The Growing Impact of System Loss

By Malcolm Metcalfe on Apr 14, 2020 9:45:00 AM

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) suggests that the multi-year historical average for transmission and distribution losses in the US power grid are approximately 5% annually (average of annual losses in 2014 through 2018).

More recent data for 2018 suggests that the loss has increased to 6.6%, which, by any account,is significant. Put in perspective, the actual loss in 2018 amounted to 275 TWh. The average retail price of electricity in 2018 was $105.30/MWh, meaning that this loss was valued at $29 billion. The increase in loss from about 5% to more than 6.6% has resulted in increased costs of loss by almost $7 billion.

What is causing the increased loss, and what, if anything, can be done to manage it?

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Topics: T&D system loss

The Utility Industry in the Time of Covid-19

By Ginger Juhl on Mar 31, 2020 9:15:00 AM

I’m wondering how everyone out there is doing today. As I sit down to write this blog, many thoughts and ideas swim through my head about what to write. Should I ruminate on how the virus that has turned all our lives upside down will impact the utility industry? Should I speculate on what the future will bring, offering theories on how long this will last and the different scenarios that might play out when summer peak loads arrive? Or perhaps offer beacons of hope and optimism? 

The French author Andre Gide coined an oft-copied phrase, “Everything that needs to be said has already been said,” and in this case, there is a lot of truth in that.  The virus is all anyone has been talking and thinking about for days, weeks or months now—depending on where you happen to live. Many of us, including me, are experiencing serious information overload; I feel like I’ve been drinking from a fire hose.

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Topics: DERs, clean energy, virtual power plant, distributed energy, Utility

The European Take on Virtual Power Plants

By Peter Asmus on Dec 12, 2019 9:30:00 AM

Guest blogger Peter Asmus of Navigant Research writes about the virtual power plant market in Europe. 

Europe, considered the birthplace of the virtual power plants (VPPs), is pushing the envelope on the concept. The continent is adapting platforms to provide new and more sophisticated capabilities to maximize the value of flexibility resources while opening doors to new value streams linked to creative ancillary service markets and real-time energy trading.

Historically, the European VPP market has centered on renewable energy integration. While this remains the case today, a shift is underway to learn from other evolving VPP markets in Canada, Australia, and Japan. The new focus includes integration of demand side resources as well as energy storage and EVs. Today, virtually anything that produces, consumes, or stores electricity (or energy) is a candidate for VPP inclusion. 

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Topics: photovoltaic, Solar, DERs, DERMs, demand response, virtual power plant, flexible load, VPP, energy storage, Navigant Research, Enbala

Mitigating Climate Change: Thinking Outside The Box

By Malcolm Metcalfe on Nov 14, 2019 11:18:14 AM

From mainstream media to social media, the world is abuzz with the topic of climate change.  A simple Google search on the phrase today yielded 1,100,000,00 results, and typing “gret” into Google is all it takes to bring up 107 million stories about Greta Thunberg.  This 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist whose lone mission to protest climate change outside the Swedish Parliament has ignited a flame within millions of young people from more than 100 countries who have joined her with demands for climate action and a cry to “listen to the scientists.”

Even those associated with the oil industry are taking up the charge. For example, the former CEO of BP, Lord John Browne, is speaking globally about the need to clean up the atmosphere and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. His new book “Make, Think, Imagine” considers whether our demand for energy has driven the Earth’s climate to the edge of catastrophe and suggests that the same spark that triggers innovation can be used to counter its negative consequences and that it is time to “listen to the engineers.”

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Topics: renewable energy, clean energy, Electric vehicles, energy storage, climate change

Postcard From the Future: VPPs in Australia

By Peter Asmus on Sep 25, 2019 12:30:37 PM

Guest blogger Peter Asmus of Navigant Research writes about the evolution of the virtual power plant market in Australia. 

Australian consumers boast one of the highest per capita consumption rates of electricity in the world (even greater than the U.S.). These consumption levels translate into flexible load resources ideal for aggregation and optimization into virtual power plants (VPPs).

What is a VPP? Think of it as a conglomeration of many distributed energy resources (DERs -- loads, but also generation, batteries and electric vehicles -- that can be combined into a pool whose sum of parts’ value is far larger than these DER assets offer individually. With sophisticated artificial intelligence software, these resources scattered across the grid can be combined “virtually” to provide the same services as a traditional 24/7 power plant -- but at much lower and environmental cost.

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Topics: photovoltaic, Solar, DERs, DERMs, demand response, virtual power plant, flexible load, VPP, energy storage, Navigant Research, Enbala, Nuclear, PV, AGL Energy

Global Virtual Power Plant Market Trends

By Lana Gonoratsky on Jul 30, 2019 11:22:00 AM

Energy systems are changing. As variable renewable energy generation replaces retiring fossil fuel-run power plants, we see a shift from our century-old mindset of centralized supply following demand, to a more distributed grid with distributed energy resources (DERs) playing an essential role in a sustainable energy future. In order for renewable energy resources and DERs to replace conventional power plants, they need to be able to act like power plants – virtually at least.

At technology and innovation’s finest hour, we are able to aggregate disparate, geographically dispersed DERs and orchestrate them in such a way that they are able to respond to the grid’s needs at the same speed and accuracy as a traditional power plant. That’s where the Virtual Power Plant (or VPP for short) comes in. Navigant Research defines a VPP as:

“… a system that relies upon software and a smart grid to remotely and automatically dispatch retail DER services to a distribution or wholesale market via an aggregation and optimization platform”

VPPs are critical for the transition to more sustainable energy systems – so where is the technology at? Where can we find VPPs? And what can we expect in the future?

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Topics: renewable energy, clean energy, demand response, virtual power plant, distributed energy, VPP

Japan Could Determine the Fate of the World Market for VPPs

By Peter Asmus on Jul 16, 2019 9:04:00 AM

Guest blogger Peter Asmus of Navigant Research posts this week about the vast potential for virtual power plants and distributed energy resources in Japan. 

The first solar PV cell made in Japan was in 1955; the first solar PV panel was connected to the Japanese grid in 1978. Japan emerged as the global leader in solar cell production in 1999 and then solar power generation in 2004. Though solar PV provided only a small portion of Japan’s overall energy supply, it showed that the country’s regulators were investigating distributed energy resources (DERs) well before other markets globally.

Japan is at a crossroads. How does one leap into the future epitomized by the concept of the Energy Cloud while simultaneously maintaining the centralized generation status quo?  The country is exploring how virtual power plants (VPPs) can help straddle this chasm, serving as a bridge from the past to the future.

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Topics: photovoltaic, Solar, DERs, DERMs, T&D infrastructure, virtual power plant, VPP, Nuclear, Japan, PV

Optimizing Your DER Line-up

By Eric Hoevenaars on Jun 13, 2019 8:21:32 AM

Three Things the Energy Industry Can Learn from Baseball Analytics

Summer is right around the corner, baseball season is underway and all 30 teams in the Major League Baseball were given a fresh start to compete for World Series glory. But the reality is that only a handful of them can truly say that the championship is within reach. According to the website Fangraphs, even before any games had started, there was more than an 80% chance that the World Series would be won by one of only six teams (the Yankees, Astros, Indians, Dodgers, Red Sox or Nationals).

What drives this gap between the elite teams and the others? Money is part of the answer. Big market teams can afford to pay for the game’s biggest all stars. But with just the 9thand 18thhighest payrolls in the league, how have teams like the Astros and Indians held their own against the league of elites? The answer is a combination of data analytics and good scouting.

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Topics: DERs, DERMs, Distibuted energy resources, Non-wires alternatives, Analytics

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