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What is DER (Distributed Energy Resources)? A practical view

Doug Houseman's picture
Visionary and innovator in the utility industry and grid modernization Burns & McDonnell

I have a broad background in utilities and energy. I worked for Capgemini in the Energy Practice for more than 15 years. During that time I rose to the position of CTO of the 12,000 person...

  • Member since 2017
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  • Apr 9, 2021

Today I sat in a couple of meetings where the definition of DER caused misunderstandings.

I submit that DER is contains the following distribution grid (not transmission) resources:
- Any generation of any fuel type (e.g., solar, wind, and diesel)
- Any storage that can absorb energy from the grid, whether or not it can return electricity back to the grid
- Any controllable load, but able to shed load and to add load

( Note: an EV is akin to storage from the grid POV)

I submit the following are not DER:
- Energy Efficiency, it is highly useful, but once you have achieved the efficiency, you can’t control it, rather it is a permanent change to the profile of the premise
- A microgrid – rather a microgrid is a collection of generation, storage and controllable loads
- Smart buildings – they have controllable loads, etc. included within them

I take microgrids and buildings out of the definition because they are purely an aggregation of the items included in the defined parts of DER above.

This is my personal take on what DER is. What have I gotten wrong?

Doug Houseman's picture
Thank Doug for the Post!
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