Distributed Energy Resources require a new Paradigm in Utilities Management

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There’s no denying the trend: many utilities are seeing a decreased margin between system load and generation capacity – and they are looking to fill that energy gap. This, combined with regulatory drivers, is incentivizing the increased penetration of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) within the distribution network.

Deployment of DERs, including renewable energy sources and energy storage systems, is helping utilities meet load demand and become energy independent while reducing emissions. Already, the Canadian province of Ontario has implemented an aggressive feed-in tariff (FIT) that supports penetration of DER.

California’s general strategy to create green jobs and cut GHG emissions includes a target of 33% of its energy being sourced from renewables. This strategy also includes stimulation of electric vehicle (EV) deployment, which is likely to occur primarily in localized urban areas and will impact the network at the distribution transformer level.

All good. Yet, the volatile nature of renewables, along with the need for microgrid management that impacts local energy supply and demand – and associated security and customer privacy concerns – will require another element vital to the success of such a sustainability strategy.

Utilities planning for DER integration must adopt a new business model, the heart of which is a centralized intelligence system that integrates and manages devices – collecting data, analyzing load and capacity, and sending out intelligence – for the automation and control needed to realize reliable energy.

Watch for the next post, where we’ll discuss what’s required to accurately forecast, analyze, and control DER contribution to the network to meet increasing demand.