EPRI’s new DERMS allows distributed energy to ‘talk’ to utility systems

EPRI Distributed generation management system
The Distributed Energy Resources Management System claims to be an ‘architecturally agnostic’ way to receive messages about the demand and supply of wind and solar power

In the US, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the US Department of Energy have developed a standard messaging platform for distributed energy resources such as wind, solar, microgrids and battery storage that use smart inverters to connect them to the grid.

The Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory worked with EPRI to create the new Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS).

The DERMS platform claims to allow distributed energy resources to “communicate” with other systems, providing information about demand, supply, and use of electricity, said Bryan Palmintier, senior research engineer in Energy Systems Integration at National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

“In the near future, DERMS will allow operators to communicate with and control large numbers of emerging resources on the distribution system to help the grid adjust to the peaks and valleys of demand and supply.

Mr Palmintier added: “However, achieving this vision will require DERMS to work seamlessly with other utility systems.”

Development of DERMS

To create DERMS, EPRI gathered stakeholders in 2013 to identify the most important uses for managing the communication to groups of distributed energy resources.

Working with the Common Information Model (CIM) and MultiSpeak standards communities, the researchers developed a set of web service messages to instruct the groups of DERMS.

Using these messages, the DERMS system manages the enterprise communications using CIM/MultiSpeak while converting the messages to the individual DER using IEC 61850, a standard developed by EPRI to provide a common set of smart inverter functions.

In 2014, EPRI developed a test procedure and the EPRI Semantic Test Harness, a tool for testing web-service messages, was updated to support the testing of these new messages.

Following tests at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, EPRI believes it has developed “an architecturally agnostic DERMS to support the various use cases the team had identified”.

The institute maintains the system can be deployed anywhere in a utility architecture such as in a distribution management system, hosted in the cloud by a third party aggregator, in a substation or as a traditional standalone system.