Long-Term Planning Critical to Harnessing Distributed Energy Resources
The proliferation of distributed energy resources (DER) has resulted in a wide range of technologies that are impacting today’s power grid. Distributed solar energy, wind generation, energy storage, electric vehicles, demand-side management (DSM), combined heat and power (CHP), fuel cells and microturbines are all influencing today’s power grid, affecting affect every level of utility operations and business processes.
As more and more customers begin exercising more control over how and where their energy is produced, utilities have a responsibility to make the appropriate infrastructure investments that will optimize smart grid benefits for all stakeholders.
In many cases, the most logical place to start may be with the most cost-effective DER to develop: demand response (DR). DR is becoming a central point of customer engagement via behavioral energy efficiency programs, direct load control and internet-connected devices such as smart thermostats.
Energy storage is also gaining attention as an integral component of the operationalization of DER because it has the potential to provide a variety of smart grid services. Storage can increase the value of solar PV by allowing stored solar energy to be transmitted to the power grid during peak demand and when wholesale prices are highest. Storage also helps microgrids match generation and load without relying on the larger grid and can also be implemented at the substation level to improve reliability and resilience in areas prone to outages.