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Data Enabling the DER’s transition state- What, Why & How?

image credit: © Enzen - used with permission
Jasjeet Singh's picture
Principal- Digital Grid Enzen Australia Pty Ltd

Jasjeet is trusted advisor for your digital transformation journey & creating new energy services pathways. He has consulted global utilities in defining value-driven Corp Strategy, Future...

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  • Aug 27, 2019 12:00 am GMT

This item is part of the Special Issue - 2019-09 - Distributed Energy Resources, click here for more

If there is one common theme across global utilities who’re responsible for network operations, there is no doubt it cuts across the complexity & integration aspects of DER’s (as we know them- Distributed Energy Resources). In my view, these resources are not evenly distributed, hence Variable Resources of Energy (VRE) or Intermittent Energy Resources (IER) is better description. Nevertheless, the concept remains same and we, as industry, must work towards solving this prestigious & high value puzzle for future networks!

There is strategic approach already taken by few global utilities to define, discuss, build roadmap, create value streams, operating models, integration, architectures & digital elements to deliver network & customer benefits. Amongst all initiatives, one thing that underpins almost all maturity stages- no matter whether you’re just exploring the DER’s as new concept or have already got advanced transactive energy state, which is nothing but the “Data”.

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In this article, we will discuss the 3 aspects of Data- What, Why & How, to ensure the success of making DER’s as your friends (and not foe- yes, it is default option if you decide to wait & do nothing)

What data do we need to make Business & Customer Case?

This part shall provide some insights for utilities who’re already working with some penetrations on their network and understand there will be need to invest in their network to either increase the “flexibility” or “work out demand management solutions”. The most obvious choice most of times, is to pick up solution from market (known with different acronyms DERMS, VPP, DRMS) and keep your fingers crossed, as the magic box will solve all your business needs, regulatory complexities and keep your customers obviously happy!

Should you decide not to take obvious path, here is what you can consider before taking 4th step directly:

  1. Find out what is level of DER penetrations on your circuits/ feeders.
  2. Assess the scenarios, at which penetration level it creates challenges to host DER’s
  3. Find out the best investment options, whether to augment or do non-wire alternatives or wait & watch
  4. Build the customer profiles, considering their behind the meter resources and net profiles.
  5. Carve out future-adopting architecture (there is no such thing- future proof, in digital era)
  6. Implement, right solution with right partners, with key capabilities and use-cases already defined, that drives the selection of solution and not vice-versa

Why do we need something like DERMS or VPPs?

The answer could be really straightforward, to manage the distributed energy resources- behind or front of meter. But at what stage we actually need solution? Is it when you see tangible challenges in terms of relays tripping, assets failing much earlier, tactical circuit level augmentation and prices going high OR we can plan strategically and in anticipation of challenges, have a roadmap done which will help utilities to seamlessly integrate all kinds of scattered generation, at minimum possible costs? Doing a pilot can help to understand technology level constraints and learning, however commercial and business-led approach must be thought upon even before POCs/ pilots being planned.

Another key question for utilities is- whether my ADMS/ DMS systems will grow to DERMS as next release/ version? Can we rely on ADMS vendors to manage the DER’s? Where does the requirements of DER solutions/ framework fit in with other existing solutions? Do we have scalable and event driven architectures to support the roll out of innovative & digital solutions in OT world?

The quick answer could be to define your use-cases, architectures (driven by corporate strategy) and then go-to market to find the right fitment. This should also address your needs around having holistic DERMS or modular solutions as VPP or DRMS. The key consideration, however is still your needs and capabilities which should define the solutions, not the opposite.

How we’re going to adopt the distributed, digital and decentralized future?

Seamlessly weaving the scattered energy proliferations and orchestrating them to deliver the sustainable, clean, reliable and affordable power is quite a challenging task. Below is high level DER reference architecture that highlights influencing factors on DER strategy and other key IT/OT data elements that needs to work cohesively to enable high-value use-cases.

The key take-away is to understand your specific situation (every utility is different and hence challenges are unique) to find best value by investing strategically into Future DSO platforms. Your business strategy and operating model should define the key capabilities/ requirements for any solution and that helps you to create best value for investors, stakeholders, regulators and customers.

Jasjeet Singh's picture
Thank Jasjeet for the Post!
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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 27, 2019

Thanks for sharing Jasjeet. That graphic at the end is immensely valuable, and I recommend everyone take a second look at this. People who don't really understand the distributed grid might look at DERs as an attempt to get 'off' the grid, but this really shows just how much interreliance and stakeholders there are in DER decisions

Jasjeet Singh's picture
Jasjeet Singh on Aug 27, 2019

Absolutely Matt. The value is much more and better realized when future tranaitran is considered holistically!

Jasjeet Singh's picture
Jasjeet Singh on Sep 3, 2019

Grab your list of key advanced analytics DER use-cases copy!

If you're considering strategy, operating model and management of DER's on your network and wonder what could be the most valueable & low hanging use-cases, please feel free to reach out and i will share with you list of those use-cases!

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