Corina Rivera-Linares, Senior Analyst, TransmissionHub
February 11, 2014 | 2 Comments
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) said on Feb. 10 that it has begun work on a three-phase initiative involving central and distributed energy resources (DER) to provide stakeholders with information and tools that will be integral to four identified areas of collaboration, which include interconnection rules and communications technologies and standards.
A paper released on Feb. 10 titled, “The integrated grid: Realizing the full value of central and distributed energy resources,” is the first phase in a larger EPRI project aimed at charting the transformation to the integrated grid, EPRI said, adding that also under consideration will be new business practices based on technologies, systems and the potential for customers to become more active participants in the power system.
Such information can support prudent, cost-effective investment in grid modernization, and the integration of distributed energy resources (DER) to enable energy efficiency, more responsive demand and the management of such variable generation as wind and solar.
Along with reinforcing and modernizing the grid, it will be essential to update interconnection rules and wholesale market and retail rate structures so that they adequately value capacity and energy. EPRI added that secure communications systems will be needed to connect DER and system operators, noting that as distributed resources penetrate the power system more fully, a failure to plan for those needs could lead to higher costs and lower reliability.
Noting that local circumstances vary, EPRI said that Germany’s experience, for instance, illustrates consequences for price, power quality and reliability when the drive to achieve a high penetration of distributed wind and photovoltaic (PV) results in outcomes that were not fully anticipated. Consequently, German policymakers and utilities are changing interconnection rules, grid expansion plans, DER connectivity requirements, wind and PV incentives, and operations to integrate distributed resources.
In the United States, Hawaii has experienced a rapid deployment of distributed PV technology that is challenging the power system’s reliability. In those and other jurisdictions, policymakers are considering how best to recover the costs of an integrated grid from all consumers that benefit from its value, EPRI said.
In discussing the three-phase initiative, EPRI noted that the concept paper released on Feb. 10 aligns stakeholders on the main issues while outlining real examples to support open fact-based discussion. Various stakeholders from the energy sector, including utilities, regulatory agencies, equipment suppliers, non-governmental organizations and other interested parties, provided input and review.
Phases II & III
Of Phase II, EPRI said that six-month project will develop a framework for assessing the costs and benefits of the combinations of technology that lead to a more integrated grid, including recommended guidelines, analytical tools and procedures for demonstrating technologies and assessing their unique costs and benefits. Such a framework, EPRI added, is required to ensure consistency in the comparison of options and to build a comprehensive set of data and information that will inform the Phase III demonstration program. Phase II output will also support policy and regulatory discussions that may enable integrated grid solutions.
Phase III, EPRI added, entails conducting global demonstrations and modeling using the analytics and procedures developed in Phase II to provide comprehensive data and information that stakeholders will need for the system-wide implementation of integrated grid technologies in the most cost-effective manner.
Taken together, the second and third phases will help identify the technology combinations that will lead to cost-effective and prudent investment to modernize the grid while supporting the technical basis for DER interconnection requirements.
Furthermore, EPRI added, interface requirements that help define the technical basis for the relationship between DER owners, distribution system operators (DSOs) and transmission system operators (TSOs) or independent system operators (ISOs) will be developed.
The information developed, aggregated and analyzed in the second and third phases will help identify planning and operational requirements for DER in the power system while supporting the robust evaluation of the capacity and energy contribution from central and distributed resources, EPRI said.
“The development of a consistent framework supported by data from a global technology demonstration and modeling program will support cost effective, prudent investments to modernize the grid and the effective, large-scale integration of DER into the power system,” EPRI said. “The development of a large collaborative of stakeholders will help the industry move in a consistent direction to achieve an integrated grid.”
EPRI also noted that several requirements are recognized when defining an integrated grid. It must enhance electrical infrastructure, must be universally applicable and should remain robust under a range of foreseeable conditions.