ORIGINAL REPORTING: Power Providers Planning For New Energy
How leading utilities are planning for distributed energy resources; DER growth can be a blessing or a curse. New software platforms can help with preparation.
Herman K. Trabish, Feb. 6, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Technology is accelerating system operators’ capabilities and expanding their options. Storage-plus-New Energy is now becoming a reality.
New solutions are emerging for how utilities can plan for customer-sited distributed energy resources (DERs) like rooftop solar, home battery systems and electric vehicles. Allowing customers to take greater control of their electricity usage and potentially replace some traditional grid infrastructure is a big change for an industry that, for a century relied on its own customer-financed infrastructure. Planning for the a coming expansion of DER is critical. Between 2018 and 2022, U.S. distributed solar installations will grow from today’s roughly 2.0 million to almost 3.8 million, according to GTM Research. Behind-the-meter battery storage is expected to grow in that period from around 200 MW to nearly 1,400 MW. And EVs will go from today's 1% of new car sales to over 50% by 2035, Energy Innovation forecasts.
Few utilities are seeing DER penetrations today that threaten reliability or revenues. But most are beginning to prepare, entering regulatory discussions about grid modernization, DER compensation and other associated issues. Newly emerging software tools can help utilities get ahead of DER adoption, forecasting not just customer adoption, but financial and operational impacts of the new resources. As utilities push into the distributed energy future, tools like these are likely to be crucial to maintaining the reliability and affordability of electric power. Emerging distribution analysis platforms "more fully evaluate the impacts and benefits of [rooftop solar] and other DER," according to a recent study of distribution system planning from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). Keys to the most accurate and complete analysis are "automated planning steps, advanced algorithms, and high-performance cloud computing," it added… click here for more