Talking an energy revolution: The DER challenge
With DERs, a dynamic, complex, multi-directional Internet of Things (IoT) like environment is emerging. A lack of common standards and the variable nature of renewable sources has led to difficulties in the integration and interoperation of renewables within the complex, multi-vendor operating systems used by today’s utilities.
Integrating diverse energy systems into the main grid—while still responding to the ever-present pressures of building business value, leveraging the full potential of existing assets, and saving costs—forces utilities to take a fresh look at grid operations and their strategies for achieving reliability, security, resilience and stability. Integrating DERs implies new business models, fresh ways to engage customers, integrated business and system planning, grid automation, more robust cybersecurity and better use of data.
Read our perspectives to explore DER integration considerations and strategies
Watch out! Congestion ahead
Most utilities in North America have a mission to provide affordable, safe, secure and reliable access to electricity (perhaps gas and water too) while protecting the environment. An increasing number of DERs are being integrated into the energy mix which is broadly good news for the environment.
Nevertheless, managing their proliferation on the grid represents risks to the network. Utilities start to see congestion—previously a transmission challenge—occur in the distribution network.
Reinforcement of the grid is one means of ensuring sufficient capacity to meet supply and demand. However, this solution can be time-consuming to realize and disruptive for businesses and citizens. Moreover, building physical infrastructure to provide capacity for peak loads—a small fraction of the total operating hours each year—is capital investment for potentially limited ROI.
What are the implications and risks of congestion in the distribution network? What are the solutions?
OMNETRIC positioned well in the DERMS market space, according to IDC
In its IDC MarketScape North America DERMS Strategic Consultants and SIs 2017 Vendor Assessment, IDC had this to say about OMNETRIC:
OMNETRIC provides its utility customers an integrated view of data and operations, reduced risks, flexible control of DERs, greater process digitization, and a smart grid platform in which to innovate.
OMNETRIC has made efforts to support further developments of open architectures and is proactive in partnering rather than developing additional functionality when available, which can save on project time and costs.
DERMS – In God we trust, all others must bring data
Given the scope of new processes and the impacts to existing processes that DER integration brings into play, data and analytics play a crucial role in any DER management solution, whatever God you worship. If the complexity of capabilities required to manage renewables and storage technologies in the distribution network were not challenge enough, the unique context of each utility adds another layer of difficulty.
Our approach is built on a flexible framework that allows the focus to be directed towards the analytics use cases and capabilities that are important within the individual utility’s specific operational context.
NREL: Addressing the challenge of integrating renewable energy to the electric grid
The U.S. Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) project INTEGRATE brings together Duke Energy, CPS Energy and The University of Texas at San Antonio with OMNETRIC and Siemens to advance renewable energy projects and resolve the current limitations utilities face when integrating renewable energy sources into the grid. First successfully verified at NREL, grid technology is being demonstrated in a test bed using live microgrid conditions. The success of the field testing promises a future of increased renewable energy use across the world, as integration with legacy systems becomes easier, faster and more manageable.
Wabash Valley Power: using demand response to manage load and lower member energy costs
Wabash Valley Power, a not-for-profit generation and transmission electric cooperative, uses demand response to meet its capacity needs and generate savings for the homes, schools and businesses it serves. The solution we developed will enable the co-op to better handle wholesale electricity costs, driving greater consumer savings. In addition, the solution—based on Siemens Distributed Energy Management System (DEMS 4.1)—will enable the co-op to integrate demand management with direct control of distributed energy resources to optimize how the grid is balanced. Once the grid is stabilized, more renewable energy resources can be used to generate power, thereby enabling the co-op to offer greater reliability, lower costs and deliver more services.
City of Rotterdam: On the road to energy neutrality
Our partnership with Siemens, The City of Rotterdam, Stedin and Lyv Smart Living, sees us implementing a distributed energy management system designed to enable the city to manage energy demand and generation, and become energy neutral by 2050. The implementation is thought to be the largest project of its kind in Europe with a target of 20,000 connections (smart homes, businesses, industry, renewable production, etc.) within its city limits connected to the energy sharing system in the next three years.