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Renewable curtailment: one symptom of grid troubles

By Enbala on Apr 29, 2016 11:08:54 AM

This past March, Chinese energy regulators put the brakes on further deployment of wind-energy projects in Mongolia during 2016. Why? Call it too much of a good thing. China, now the world leader in solar and wind installations, doesn’t have the transmission infrastructure necessary to transport electricity from the windswept Mongolian steppes to the power-hungry cities that need it.

During 2015, China installed some 33 gigawatts of wind turbines, which was more than half of new wind installations worldwide. But, in the same year, government statistics show “33.9 billion kilowatt-hours of wind-powered electricity was wasted … equivalent to the electricity consumed by 3 million American households a year,” according to an article published by InsideClimate News. ”That was about 15 percent of China's total wind power generation, up from 8 percent a year earlier.”

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Topics: Solar energy, grid optimization, wind energy, DERMs, grid balance

Renewable Energy a Threat to Conventional Utilities?

By Enbala on Apr 25, 2016 9:59:50 AM

This past Earth Day, plenty of power system participants celebrated our lovely planet. PECO used the date to launch it’s new Solar Stakeholder Collaborative. Louisville Gas & Electric sponsored a do at the Louisville Zoo. First Energy held EarthFest, Ohio's largest environmental education event, for some of its six million customers. Even California’s Independent System Operator (CAISO) used the date to push eco-friendly living. It issued its summer power supply forecast via a press release that sported the headline, “Energy Conservation: What’s Good for the Planet is Good for the Power Grid.”

Ultimately, that’s true. Ironically, a recent survey by the consultancy West Monroe Partners found that most utilities treat DERs -- like customer-sited solar -- as a threat. The same survey shows that only 3 percent of executives who responded view the growth of DER as an opportunity.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, Solar energy, DERs, DERMs

Smart Inverters: Here today for tomorrow

By Enbala on Apr 14, 2016 3:33:22 PM

Here’s something that’s not so smart about smart inverters: Many people assume we can’t take advantage of the voltage and frequency benefits they could offer grid operators because regulations get in the way. But, even in jurisdictions where regulations hamper autonomous operation of smart inverters, there’s still a way you could gain benefit from them. Just hook them up to a DER-management platform like Symphony by Enbala.

What could be could be

For those who don’t know much about smart inverters, here’s a quick look at what they are and what they can do.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, Distributed energy resource management, Solar energy, DERs, smart inverters

Utility Maestro, Raise Your Baton!

By Enbala on Apr 6, 2016 12:03:50 PM


You’ve probably noticed that a lot of articles and blogs these days begin with the now-obvious observation that the grid is moving from a centralized model to a decentralized one. Often, these pronouncements are offered in a tone that seems like the speaker is wrinkling his brow with worry, wringing his hands … and probably sweating a little, too. Such anxiety is likely over doing it.

In reality, the opportunities presented by distributed energy resources (DERs) far outweigh the challenges that ubiquitous adoption of them may bring. DERs are going to help us green up our grid with more renewables, clean up our atmosphere, improve reliability and form new alliances between power providers and customers.

To bring these benefits about, power providers will need to expand their business models a little. Instead of being asset builders who make their money off the generation they construct and energy they send whizzing down the power line, it’s time to look at making money from the role of orchestrators who direct the energy, storage and flexibility DERs can deliver.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, Distributed energy resource management, DERs, network orchestration

Batteries vs. Demand Management: They’re Stronger Together

By Enbala on Mar 17, 2016 11:51:04 AM

Given the proliferation of renewables — plus the dramatic growth rates predicted for solar and wind power over the next year or two — plenty of people are looking to storage as the way to save us from renewable intermittency. But, storage is pricey. And, given the potential for long stretches of inclement weather that knocks solar PV output down or fails to turn the wind turbines, the storage we have available today is unlikely to be sufficient for the power grid’s needs.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, Distributed energy resource management, process storage, battery storage, DERs, demand management, DERMs, demand response

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

The Grid of the Future – a Bird’s-eye View

By Enbala on Sep 9, 2015 10:37:51 AM

A “mumuration” of starling is a remarkable thing. Huge numbers of birds — thousands and hundreds of thousands — fly together in unison and don’t collide. Scientists have found that each bird monitors the state of adjacent birds and responds to minute changes in direction from its neighbors. There is no control from any leadership, and yet the flock operates smoothly. This approach enables a large number of birds to fly successfully as a flock.

 A power system with a high penetration of distributed resources will need a similar autonomous yet distributed control system that can allow local measurements to be used to provide immediate local control. This will augment central management and coordination in order to maintain overall power system control.

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The Interconnected World: How Engaged are Electricity Customers with Their Utility?

By Enbala on Jul 12, 2015 4:47:48 PM

In today’s fast-paced digital world, we are all constantly connected. Even the smart phone you carry has immeasurable reach, whether it is to specific people, to your work or home email, to your bank account, or even to tell you how late your public transportation is going to be. The modern-day customer wants access to information and extensive communication in all aspects of their lives. This is no different when we look at a utility’s customer base. Although electric utilities provide essential services to their customers, a two-way, continuously connected relationship is becoming more important to manage a reliable and efficient power system, benefiting both the utility and satisfying their customers’ needs.

Generally, customers are accustomed to a one-way relationship with their utility – they consume whatever power they need, when they need it, and they receive a bill at the end of the billing period. This is the traditional way customers think about their utilities (if they do at all). But today, there is significant value for both the customer and the utility in establishing a two-way information exchange.

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Energy Efficiency: How can it be Achieved at all Levels of the Power System?

By Enbala on Jun 25, 2015 4:51:03 PM

A recent Enbala blog entry discusses energy efficiency, providing background and context on how it is traditionally viewed and how industry perspective on energy efficiency needs to be expanded. A more holistic approach to grid operation that utilizes state-of-the-art smart grid technologies would allow for further efficiency improvements to the overall power system – not just at the end user. Let’s look at more details on how intelligently managing the power usage of large electricity users can improve both generation and delivery efficiencies.

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