The energy industry’s CO2 reduction efforts are paying off. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global energy-related CO2 emissions have declined by 1.3% (200 million tons) since 2018, thanks in large part to the power sector’s increasing adoption of renewable energy sources, as well as other ongoing efforts like transitioning from coal to natural gas. IEA’s findings reinforce the importance and effectiveness of the energy industry’s green transformation using low-emissions power generation sources and digitizing electrical networks for a low-carbon future.
Replacing fossil-fuel power generation with distributed energy resources (DER) like wind and solar are key to decarbonization. However, the increased adoption of DER does present some complicated challenges for electrical distribution systems, including:
- Accurately forecasting variable DER is difficult
- Reliability and power quality can decrease if DER are not properly managed
- The growing adoption of electric vehicles (EV) is putting stress on the grid because charging times are variable, which makes controlling and balancing peak demand more challenging
- Utilities must balance the load using additional flexibility and demand response solutions
- Growing electricity consumption is increasing grid management complexity
These challenges can be met using innovative technology that improves grid management and control, network visibility, and real-time asset information, and empowers electricity companies to take an active role in managing their systems. While there are several important technologies that work together to make this possible, distributed energy resource management systems (DERMS) and microgrids are two of the solution standouts.
The Value of DERMS and Microgrids
Optimally integrating DER and actively managing distribution systems is only possible using DERMS, as part of an ADMS platform or in a stand-alone mode for those utilities that are not running ADMS. DERMS is a grid-focused solution that optimizes DER integration and use by providing a centralized analysis and control of all types of DER and detects potential problems based on calculated current and forecasted load and generation. The primary aim of DERMS is to improve operational planning, management, and control using accurate insight into distribution networks using its global monitoring, forecasting, and control capabilities.
Microgrids, play a different, yet essential role in a sustainable future by bringing resilience to the main grid to ensure reliable, green power. Microgrids, or local energy grids with control capabilities, are frequently touted for their effectiveness as a standalone, backup power source for facilities or communities. They also have a much wider use, though: providing critical grid support by ensuring the grid has a continuous power supply during heavy energy demand or when DER, which are naturally variable, are not producing energy. They’re a proven solution for keeping energy flowing during downtime or grid outages – preventing expensive blackouts. Outages are of particular concern because in most areas of the world, the grid infrastructure is aging so the additional strain of DER use can lead to more blackouts.
The energy industry has the greatest potential for reducing the world’s CO2 emissions, but it must continue to build on its green efforts. These actions include adopting innovative technology like DERMS and microgrids, which effectively contribute to a low-carbon future by lowering CO2 emissions in their networks, maximizing DER integration, and preparing for growing trends that could strain the grid, like electric vehicle charging.
To learn more about how technology is supporting clean energy production, read our white paper, “How Electrical Distribution Networks Can Contribute to a Low-Carbon Future”.