EPRI launches collaboration on distributed energy integration


Palo Alto, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — January 2, 2013 – The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is launching a new collaborative activity to address the need for enterprise integration of distributed energy resources (DERs).

The activity is being coordinated with the Department of Energy, through the DOE SunShot Smart Inverter initiative, and with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), through the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel’s (SGIP) Distributed Renewables, Generators, and Storage Domain Expert Working Group.

In a new report, “Integrating Smart Distributed Energy Resources with Distribution Management Systems,” EPRI notes that DERs of various types are becoming increasingly common in utility distribution systems. Further, technology improvements continue to add new capabilities and drive down cost, raising the likelihood that higher penetrations of these devices will come.

However, the present DER penetration levels are low in most circuits, providing the utility industry with the time and opportunity to develop a framework of standards for multi-vendor interoperability to guide the arrival of these devices and their integration. A proactive approach is much preferred, rather than waiting until penetrations are high, and reacting to the cost and maintenance complexity associated with incompatible devices and applications.

The collaborative work performed by the power industry over the last few years in the area of smart inverter standards and field network protocols was a good first step toward preparing for higher penetration of DERs. But standards do not yet exist to support the enterprise integration of these device capabilities in a useful and manageable way.

The collaborative activity will include a face-to-face workshop that brings together utility distribution management experts, distribution management system (DMS) software and DER specialists, to identify a core set of practical, useful DER/DMS interactions. This is intended to provide the industry with an initial point of reference for DER integration and guidance to ongoing research and standards development.

Key points from the EPRI report include:

  • The need to add methods for distribution to deal with distributed solar generation.
  • Smart inverter functions will need to be mapped with enterprise level systems.
  • A DER management system can enable standard and uniform communication from DMS to DERs.
  • Open standards are emerging for standard grid supportive functions for DERs such as PV and battery storage.
  • The grid supportive capabilities of DERs must complement, not replace, existing distribution controls, such as capacitors, regulators, and switches.