Enbala Blog

Virtual Power Plants Explained

By Enbala on Feb 21, 2018 9:41:47 AM

Distributed energy resources (DERs) give us big opportunities to build cleaner and more reliable power grids, but to be optimally effective, those resources need to orchestrated so that they are aggregated, optimized and controlled for the grid services that are needed – precisely when and where they are needed.

The platforms for achieving this orchestration encompass both Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) and Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems (DERMS). Many who talk and write about these platforms use the terms interchangeably, as if one is a synonym for the other. For those of us at Enbala who have made harnessing the power of distributed energy our life’s work, we respectfully disagree. There are foundational differences that significantly impact what can – and what can’t – be done with the DERs being harnessed.

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Topics: DERMs, virtual power plant, Distibuted energy resources

DERMS, VPPs and DERs, Oh My!

By Enbala on Jan 22, 2018 8:00:00 AM

What’s the difference – and why should you care?

There are a lot of acronyms floating around the energy world these days. It’s a veritable alphabet soup of evolving terms that are often hard to distinguish from one another.  This is especially true when it comes to distributed energy – it’s a relatively new concept in and of itself, and when the terms that define this evolving move to the grid edge aren’t inherently self-defining, the ensuing confusion complicates the equation. What’s the difference between DERs and a DERMS?  And what’s the definition of a DERMS versus a VPP?  Just as important what difference does it make? 

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Topics: virtual power plant, distributed energy resource management systems, Distibuted energy resources

TENET #3 – ACHIEVING LONG-TERM GOALS REQUIRES UNLIMITED SCALABILITY

By Michael Ratliff on Sep 26, 2017 8:50:00 AM

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.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, Distributed energy resource management, DERMs, virtual power plant, VPP, Scalability, Elixir, Erlang

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

Efficiency and Cooperation

By Malcolm Metcalfe on Aug 16, 2017 8:03:00 AM

I have posted several blogs in the past few weeks, focused on the potential to improve the operation of the electric power grid, reducing losses, and driving the overall efficiency up. Some of the thoughtful comments that have been posted by readers have provided food for thought. One comment was particularly important to this discussion…

“What’s best for players individually is not what’s best for the public and for the system as a whole.”

This comment reveals an issue that may soon be a problem.

For most of the 130-year history of the electric grid, utilities have charged residential customers for energy used and have NOT charged for peak power demand, as they do for commercial and industrial accounts.

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Topics: distributed energy resources, DERMs, virtual power plant, energy efficiency, distributed energy resource management systems, net zero home

Taking VPPs to the Next Level

By Peter Asmus on Jun 21, 2017 9:10:00 AM

This week, we feature guest blogger Peter Asmus of Navigant Research, who talks about virtual power plants (VPPs) and their changing role in the utility industry.

The primary goal of a virtual power plant (VPP) is to achieve the greatest possible profit for asset owners—such as a resident with rooftop solar PV coupled with batteries—while maintaining the proper balance of the electricity grid at the lowest possible economic and environmental cost. The purpose is clear, but getting to this nirvana is not easy. Nevertheless, there are clear signs that the VPP market is maturing. New partnerships are pointing the way for control software platforms that can manage distributed energy resources (DER) in creative ways.

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Topics: DERs, DERMs, virtual power plant, ABB, DERMS, distributed energy resources,, Navigant Research, VPPs, Enbala

Virtual Power Plants and the New Energy Future

By Enbala on May 25, 2017 1:05:15 PM

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Virtual power plants or VPPs are one of the hottest topics in the energy industry today. In fact, investments in VPPs are expected to total over $68.6 billion by 2025 -- this according to Navigant Research, who has published a new white paper on the topic. 

Software advancements are enabling greatly expanded capabilities in the distributed energy resources (DERs) that can be aggregated into VPPs, which are now capable of responding to the needs of the power grid at the sub-second speeds required for instantaneous grid balancing. 

Titled Stacking Values with Virtual Power Plants in Today's Digital Power Grid: Moving Distributed Networked Energy Into the Mainstream, the paper was authored by Navigant's Peter Asmus and covers:

  • The expansion and convergence of VPP market segments
  • New distributed energy resource architectures
  • Physical VPP grid and market interaction values
  • ROIs on VPPs
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Topics: distributed energy resources, DERMs, grid balance, virtual power plant, Navigant Research, VPPs

An Investment in Distributed Energy Resource Management Beyond the Grid Edge

By Rick Nicholson on Feb 28, 2017 12:00:00 PM

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. 

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Topics: distributed energy resources, Distributed energy resource management, DERMs, virtual power plant, ABB, VPP, ADMS, advanced distribution management system

Spock or Scotty: Which character fits your organization?

By Enbala on Aug 29, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Raise your hand if you sometimes feel like Mr. Scott from the original Star Trek series, frantically trying to keep the engines roaring while the ship takes one phaser hit after another: If you did raise your hand, you’re not alone. There are plenty of reasons utilities might be playing the Mr. Scott role.

One is under investment in infrastructure, which was named as the top concern by 47 percent of utility executives who answered a Utility Dive survey late in 2015. Another is what the California Independent System Operator calls the Duck Curve. It shows how behind-the-meter solar installations are creating daytime over-generation on the California grid and, because rooftop solar quits generating power about the same time people come home and start using more of it, there are steep ramps at the end of the day.

Demand response programs could help utilities deal with these issues. But, utilities that are doing simple demand response are kind of like Star Trek’s Scotty. They’re just getting by, handling one crisis after another, giving it all she’s got, Captain. “I don’t think she can take any more!”

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Topics: distributed energy resources, Solar energy, DERs, virtual power plant

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