In partnership with PLMA, this group is for practitioners from energy utilities, solution providers, and trade allies to share load management expertise and explore innovative approaches to program delivery, pricing constructs, and technology adoption.

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Decarbonization and Load Management

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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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The serious issues the industry faces as governments require utilities to move towards Net Zero Emissions (NZE) are significant. In order to meet these demands utilities will have to integrate a raft of new options into their grid networks. Perhaps we should use new jargon and call them “grid ecosystems”, as they are not the old central power station/grid/substation/user paradigm, but more of a web or network of different systems interacting, which is more like an ecosystem than a linear top-down structure.

Load management is going to be a major feature of this ecosystem. As has been discussed many times on Energy Central, bidirectional energy systems where users sell electricity back to the grid, perhaps from their EVs or solar panels, or enable smart appliances to operate when price is low, will be part of this development.

So customers should be encouraged as part of their smart homes and smart cities to ensure that their systems can route back into the grid where necessary.

"The utility of the future will use flexible DER to manage system peak, bid into wholesale markets, and defer distribution system upgrades," says Seth Frader-Thompson, president of leading DER management services provider EnergyHub. "The challenge is in providing the right incentives to utilities for using DER flexibility and adequate compensation to customers for building it."

There are now about 15 million smart thermostats, 15 GW of distributed solar installations, and 1.1 million EVs, and growth is going to continue.

Modern smart software allows utilities to aggregate all the different flavors of DER into a single analytics platform and present the operator with a coherent view and a single point of control. This will mean the complex task of balancing demand, load and available power will be within the capabilities of utilities, though there will be many challenges ahead.

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Christopher Neely's picture
Christopher Neely on Dec 30, 2021

I think we'll make the most progress in this when smart technologies reach beyond incentives and into policy and mandates. Right now, some of this technology feels unattainable unless you have deep pockets or buy a home or rent an apartment already outfitted with the tech. When smart appliances and DERs come as part of new developments, such as Tampa Bay Electric Company is piloting right now, we will see a leap in progress.

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