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.
At a fundamental level, VPPs provide flexible grid services that ARE NOT highly dependent on the specific locations of DER assets. DERMS, on the other hand, provide active and reactive power control for grid services that ARE highly dependent on the specific location of each asset. What does this mean, and why should you care?
We’re in the midst of creating a series of articles that answer questions like these and which provide much deeper insights into VPPs and DERMS. We recently released Chapter 1 of this new article series focused on a deep dive into VPPs. If you have not seen it, we’d like to share that with you now.