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The Challenges of DER Load Management

image credit: PXiSE
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writer and researcher BrightGreen PR

Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass business and technology, cryptocurrencies, energy and the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:...

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Energy is in the midst of a huge transition to decarbonization. There are many challenges to solve, along with great opportunities. Utilities will have to grapple with a grid which is very different to the centralized way it originally functioned.

When you have DER feeding into the network the voltage rises at the connection point. With high DER penetration rate, the voltage over the whole network will increase, and can quickly become troublesome if it is not managed correctly. Overvoltage, or exceeding the operating limits is a serious issue. DERs can also reverse power flow, or in other words, the distribution network can feed back power to the upstream network, which is not designed to work under such conditions. These are serious complications that need to be addressed.

Nowadays you cannot limit DER integration to a minimal amount. There are various possible solutions including AI and advanced software monitoring and stabilising the grid. Some proponents of blockchain-based solutions think this will help solve the problem by using more efficient data processing and storage.

 

DERs in Operation

For example, in Martha's Vineyard, the local Transit Authority is using a 466kW solar PV array and sixteen bus charging stations. The organization needed an automated system to surmount several key challenges they were facing. These included integrating with a demand response program, managing multiple DERs, coordinating a BESS, managing the intermittency, and operating it all under staffing issues that came with the pandemic.

They installed a microgrid controller made by PXiSE (a subisidary of the Japanese Yokugawa Corporation) to unify the control and optimization of all the on-site DERs and ensure the microgrid’s primary function – ensuring the buses are charged and ready for the road – is being fulfilled. PXiSE’s Microgrid Controller also created operational and economic opportunities and benefits such as:

  • Increasing uptimes

  • Enabling market participation

  • Shifting demand charges

  • Eliminating the need for additional systems

Careful planning and architecture design is going to be needed to ensure that the loads on an emerging, modernized grid can handle the loads and stresses placed on it by greater numbers of DERs and other advanced power systems.

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