Taking the next step toward grid modernization
- Feb 24, 2022 10:24 pm GMT
Utility decision makers can be faced with option paralysis when trying to determine the best path forward for modernizing their electric grids. It’s not that solutions don’t exist for the problems they’re facing. On the contrary, there are unique solutions for every problem and determining the ideal path forward—that solves today’s problems while setting utilities up for the future—is a daunting task.
Adding to the stress of deciding on the best next step is a heightened sense of urgency. Utilities are facing an onslaught of threats to grid stability and long-term financial viability brought on by a perfect storm of rapidly increasing customer distributed energy resources (DERs) and extreme weather events. Customer solar PV and EV adoption show no signs of slowing and are foundational in President Biden’s infrastructure plans to reenergize the US economy. Add in regulatory pressures and the urgency to get cracking on solutions is real and not about to relax any time soon.
But how can you act quickly to revolutionize a grid that has been in the making for over 100 years and seen little technological change during that time? And how can you be sure the path you choose is the correct one when it’s all unfamiliar territory?
Choosing a path
The truth is you can’t tackle the entire grid and all its issues at once. However, solutions exist today that enable you to make rapid progress on many large problems while putting the building blocks in place for solving the next set. When software is implemented, it can provide you with the visibility, analysis, and control of conditions on your grid that were previously beyond your grasp—and help determine the next steps in your grid modernization journey.
The key is to understand all the problems holistically but to tackle them one small chunk at a time, ensuring each solution builds on the previous one, and provides exponential benefits as you go. To figure out which small chunk to start with, or what angle to approach from, start by answering these three questions:
- What is your utility’s philosophy toward managing customer-owned assets located behind the meter?
- What is the depth of your utility’s relationship with its residential, industrial, and commercial customers?
- What are the current conditions on the utility’s grid?
Depending on your answers to these questions, they will point you to start either with localized microgrid solutions that can later be aggregated at a higher level, or to start from above with higher-level DER management and work your way down to the localized solutions. Both paths are a viable means to achieve grid modernization and can be accomplished by implementing modular software that can scale with and leverage the increasing complexity.
The following white papers offer further guidance on which path your answers can point you toward
- Microgrid Controllers: Rapid Relief for Today’s Dynamic Grid Evaluating Microgrid Controllers as the Next Step to a Resilient, Renewable Grid
- DERMS: Yes or No for Your Utility? Why, When, and Whether to use a DERMS Alone or Paired with a Microgrid Controller
Deciding on the next step shouldn’t feel like going down a path of no return. Unlike expensive capital infrastructure, software investments are relatively easy to implement and offer a multi-pronged approach to solving grid modernization challenges. Furthermore, implementing and taking advantage of systems with artificial intelligence today will free up more resources to strategize on next steps, positioning you and your utility as a 21st Century grid leader.
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