A few days ago, we were contacted by an interested professional in Norway who had read our newest white paper, which I co-wrote with Guidehouse Insights to dispel the many myths surround distributed energy resource management systems (DERMS). He posited that Norway may be the world’s largest distributed energy resource (DER) system, noting that 90+ percent of the country’s electricity comes from numerous local, but interconnected, hydro stations. He pointed out that when rainfall is high, electricity is relatively inexpensive and that when it’s low, coal-fired power needs to be imported — a dynamic that’s changing with Norway’s ongoing construction of wind power. Noting that the country’s grid has operated for many years without 21st century grid management, he pondered what could be done with modern DERMS technology to minimize waste and improve the performance of the grid.
Here’s a little something you can chew on if you are sitting down to eat one of the 46 million turkeys Americans will roast this Thanksgiving. The latent thermal storage in all those turkeys could provide 4.32 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy. According to the Energy Information Administration, the average U.S. home used 10,766 kWh in 2016. That means all that thermal storage in Thanksgiving’s main-dish favorite could power some 400 homes for an entire year.
So, how do you tap that energy? You can’t exactly roll into your garage and plug a hybrid vehicle into a turkey. But, you can use a turkey’s thermal storage capacity the same way you tap the thermal energy in the cooler that’s chilling the beer you might drink during a holiday football game. The mass of the turkey allows the grid to utilize a cold storage facility as an energy storage system.
REDEFINING SUCCESS FOR A DISTRIBUTED ENERGY GRID: THE THREE TENETS
In our first “Three Tenets” blog we talked about the importance of speed when it comes to effectively leveraging distributed energy resources (DERs), and in the second one we wrote about the importance of accuracy. In this one we add a third dimension of criticality – scalability. From our perspective, these are by far the top three critical success factors today when it comes to successful DERMS and VPP projects and the determining factors for the long-term viability of these projects as increasingly larger numbers of distributed energy assets find their way onto the grid. There are, of course, other important factors, but many that topped the criteria list during the early phases of DER adoption have been far overshadowed in today’s world by the need for the triumvirate combination of speed, accuracy and scalability.
REDEFINING SUCCESS FOR A DISTRIBUTED ENERGY GRID: THE THREE TENETS
When it comes to effectively leveraging distributed energy resources (DERs), there are three critical success factors that any DER management system or Virtual Power Plant (VPP) must embody. In a previous blog we focused on Tenet #1: the importance of speed.
In today’s blog, we address another of the top three criteria: accuracy. Just as the question “how fast is fast enough” was answered with “it depends,” so too does the question “how accurate is accurate enough” have the same response. The criticality of accuracy depends on what the distributed energy resources are being dispatched to do.
This week's blog is authored by Rick Nicholson, Global Product Management and Marketing, Enterprise Software, for ABB. We asked Rick to provide his insights on ABB's newly announced investment in Enbala.
ABB recently announced an investment in Enbala, made through ABB’s venture capital unit, ABB Technology Ventures. The announcement also mentioned that ABB and Enbala are joining forces to develop a new distributed energy resource management system (DERMS). The joint solution will combine the benefits of Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS) and DERMS to enable utilities, energy service companies and grid operators to efficiently manage the entire lifecycle of distributed energy resources, like solar, batteries and wind, while ensuring the safe, secure and efficient operation of the electric distribution network. It will also enable more active participation from energy consumers.
A stronger, smarter, greener grid
Why did ABB make this investment and choose to partner with Enbala to develop a DERMS solution? The answer to this question is based on the current state and expected evolution of distributed energy resource management.
There’s a good reason that traditional demand response (DR) programs only ask C&I customers to curtail energy usage a few times each year. Traditional DR is painful. It’s a no-holds-barred, shut down that conveyor belt, stop production, turn off the air conditioner and send people home kind of deal. It is, by definition, disruptive. And, frankly, not every organization can afford to have its business endure even a few interruptions a year.
But, DR doesn’t need to be disruptive, and to get the most out of today’s demand management technology, we really need to think of curtailment events as a day-to-day method of grid support instead of troublesome headaches that must be painfully tolerated.
That’s what one East Coast utility is doing with the Symphony by EnbalaTM distributed energy resource management platform (DERMS). By aggregating small amounts of response from many different devices in one site, a promising pilot is showing that curtailment can be both effective and invisible to customers.
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?
This blog was co-authored by Enbala and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). Enbala extends its heartfelt thanks to the Institute for the insights and effort that went into creating this piece.
Demand flexibility - allowing household devices like HVAC systems and smart appliances to interact with the electric grid in response to real-time price changes - can save customers money and lower the overall cost of electricity. The Rocky Mountain Institute's recent paper, The Economics of Demand Flexibility, analyzed the economics of making common household loads controllable and responsive to electricity price signals. The Institute found that just making two devices flexible, i.e., smart thermostats that could flex an HVAC system’s output up or down by 2 degrees and smart water heaters that could change the timing of water heating, could lower system-wide peak demand by eight percent and save $10–15 billion in costs to the grid annually.
Topics: Distributed energy resource management, Solar energy, battery storage, DERs, demand management, DERMs, peak load management, demand flexibility, Symphony by Enbala, Rocky Mountain Institute, distributed energy
On one of my many travels recently, I got a chance to catch up on some movies that I had been meaning to watch. One of those movies was “Steve Jobs.” This movie, starring Michael Fassbender, gives an inside look at one of the true innovators of our time.
The National Renewable Energy Lab has a great paper titled Flexibility in 21st Century Power Systems. The paper addresses three grid requirements to accommodate increasing numbers of variable generation resources like wind and solar energy.
- The first among those requirements is flexible generation. We need power plants that can run efficiently with a very low output level and ramp rapidly from those deep turn-down rates.
- We also need flexible transmission to carry power without bottlenecks and facilitate access to a broad range of balancing resources. That’s requirement number two.
- And, finally, the NREL authors say requirement number three is flexible demand-side resources. Those resources include storage, responsive distributed generation and loads engaged in demand response programs that can support the grid by responding to market signals or direct load control.
Amen to requirement number three.