As part of last week's 2020 New York Climate Week, Credit Suisse and Dynamo Energy Hub co-hosted an informative online panel in collaboration with IBM. The panel, titled Cleantech, Collaboration and Climate Action: Driving the Clean Energy Transition Through COVID-19, brought together industry leaders to discuss their experiences and insights on trends over the previous — very disruptive — six months.
Two years ago, Enbala posted a blog that posed a proverbial 64 dollar question. Noting that “
Everything you always wanted to know about power systems but were too afraid to ask
Part 1 of Malcolm Metcalfe's Power System Primer
There are two distinctly different methods used to balance supply and demand. These are:
- Balancing supply/demand in an isolated system (one that is not interconnected with the larger grid. Examples are local systems to power a remote location).
- Balancing supply/demand in an interconnected system, where a utility is a part of a major interconnection of many utilities.
Like countless industry associations, the Smart Electric Power Organization—better known as SEPA—had planned to hold its annual Grid Evolution Summit this year in Washington, DC. But rather than kicking off as planned, the yearly event “clicked on” in mid-July, with a virtual format that included several live sessions, followed in August by pre-recorded “bonus sessions” focused on topics with a high degree of interest and relevance to today’s utility industry.
One of the topics covered Trends in Behind-the-Meter Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), and Enbala CEO Bud Vos was one of the featured speakers, providing insights on how grid operators and utilities can manage DERs at the microgrid, virtual power plant (VPP) and distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) levels. Speakers also explored how DER management trends impact value streams, market opportunities and grid services across various use cases.
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?
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.
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?
Topics: T&D system loss
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.
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.
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.”