Enbala Blog

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 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

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

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

Moving from VPPs to DERMS: A Global Phenomenon Driven by EVs

By Peter Asmus on May 23, 2019 10:00:00 AM


Guest blogger Peter Asmus of Navigant Research posts this week about the widening use of distributed energy resources around the world, virtual power plants and distributed energy resources management systems.

As distributed energy resources (DERs) continue to proliferate, so do the reliability challenges associated with the world’s aging grid infrastructure. The diversity of resources added to the power grid include plug-in EVs (PEVs) and rooftop solar PV coupled with energy storage devices at residences. As the grid was not designed for two-way power flows, these trends create challenges and opportunities for vendors and grid operators.

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Topics: DERs, virtual power plant, distributed energy, VPP, DERMS, distributed energy resources,, EVs, Renewables, PEV

Two Sides of the Same Coin: How Enbala and Alectra Are Pushing the Energy Cloud Envelope

By Peter Asmus on Aug 23, 2018 8:40:11 AM

Guest blogger Peter Asmus of Navigant Research posts this week about virtual power plants, distributed energy resources management systems, microgrids — and the way in which Alectra is bringing them all together to meet its customers energy needs and its own grid reliability requirements. 

Electricity is a multidimensional product that requires constant fine-tuning. Otherwise, the lights go out, resulting in substantial lost economic activity. The challenge of accomplishing this task has become increasingly difficult as the fleet of distributed energy resources (DERs) begins to take over electricity resource pools. Beginning in 2018, annual centralized power resources began to give way to distributed generation and a more diverse DER mix. I noted last year that this transition was likely.

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Topics: DERs, DERMs, virtual power plant, distributed energy, VPP, Navigant Research, energy cloud, Alectra, microgrid

Can DERs Play Too?

By Deborah Hazebroek on Jul 18, 2018 2:06:59 PM

The Question

The world is changing. This isn’t news, of course. In fact, it’s rather old news – the world has changed. And the composition of the power grid has changed along with it. More roofs have solar panels. More garages house electric vehicles. The devices consumers plug into outlets have radically different load profiles than the devices of previous generations. Today there is an increased prevalence of wind farms, smart inverters, batteries and many other distributed energy resources (DERs) at the grid edge.

All these DERs offer tremendous potential through control and optimization. But while this capability presents copious opportunities, it also creates a few headaches, particularly for grid operators, often miles away (literally and figuratively) from where the DERs are located.

Yet DERs are becoming so entrenched in the daily operations of the grid that it’s tempting to ponder just where their limitations lay. With advancements in technology and business models, many innovators are looking to increase value from DERs, which leads to the latest question surrounding the capabilities of these assets: Can DERs play in utility and wholesale markets?

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Topics: DERs, virtual power plant, distributed energy, VPP

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

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