Integrating distributed energy resources (DERs) offers opportunities to monitor and manage these distributed assets to adjust to the ever-changing conditions of the grid. To do so in a cost-effective manner requires a secure, reliable communications infrastructure capable of linking DER assets with intelligent control systems. Silver Spring can help utilities to identify and resolve DER integration challenges, facilitating a smoother transition into a brilliant future of networked electricity infrastructure.
Many innovations deployed in the smart grid ecosystem are concentrated behind the meter. These new products are often owned and operated by customers or third parties. Distributed energy resources have the potential to significantly enhance the performance and reliability of the electricity grid, and the utility service model. Integrating DERs into energy markets and utility operations hinges on embracing new technologies and new business processes. The concept of creating virtual power plants (VPP) is one approach that can empower utilities and their customers to extract additional value from DERs.
The VPP scenario is one in which anyone, anywhere with a connection to the grid has the potential to sell energy into the market. To stay competitive, utilities must bridge the gap between the physical world of grid operations and the financial world of energy markets, while also playing a central role in managing these assets to the benefit of the distribution grid. By aggregating DERs, grid operations and customer programs in a unified framework, the VPP gives utilities a model to integrate these systems into existing business operations. Whether it’s demand response for peak-load reduction or integrating rooftop solar for ancillary services, utilities can integrate DERs based on their value to the local distribution system topology, reducing dependence on costly, carbon intensive generation capacity.
Most utility networks are not set up to support this type of service model today. Ultimately, the widespread integration of distributed energy resources and distributed power integration will depend on standards and a common networking platform along with several key enabling technologies like Silver Spring’s Rapid Telemetry Demand Response solution, purpose built to support the rise of DERs and needs of utility customers.