ORIGINAL REPORTING: 'Not your grandma's DER': Distributed resources modernize, prove value to grid
'Not your grandma's DER': Distributed resources modernize, prove value to grid; New, smart DER can go beyond customer benefits to help stabilize utility systems.
Herman K. Trabish, Sept. 27, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Innovation has not stopped and regulation is falling farther behind as efforts to define locational value flounder.
Proof is emerging that distributed energy resources (DER) can deliver services to the power system in addition to the customers who buy and install them. DER advocates say the resources can respond quickly to the grid's need to ramp generation up or down, store over-generation and control system frequency changes and local voltage fluctuations. Pilots are in place across the country to prove DER can fulfill these promises, and interest from utilities and system operators, driven by market factors and policy mandates, is growing fast. "DER is not just rooftop solar anymore, it's also storage, demand response and smart inverters, and it is smarter and costs less. This is not your grandma's DER," said Ric O'Connell, executive director of GridLab and co-author of a new paper on how DER can be used to meet grid needs. According to the paper from GridLab and GridWorks, one word explains the rising interest in DER as grid services: flexibility.
The evolving system's variable demand and supply, and two-way power flows create an unprecedented need for the fast on-off flexibility that DER, and especially battery energy storage, offer. "Storage is changing the DER landscape," the paper reports. Commercial-industrial customers are using it to shift their usage, cut demand charges or participate in demand response (DR) programs. Residential customers are pairing storage with solar to reduce their usage when rates make electricity more expensive. The grid's use of DER falls into three broad categories. First, DER can be a non-wires solution (NWS) that replaces a more costly build or upgrade of transmission and distribution (T&D) system infrastructure. Second, customer-sited DER across a distribution system can meet system-wide frequency or ramping needs. Third, distributed generation (DG) of any kind can be paired with storage to maintain a normal production curve on systems with high renewables penetrations, despite disruptions like clouds and demand spikes… click here for more