Long-term success rests on utility readiness for the next wave of DER evolution. We’ve seen the impact of wind farms and photovoltaics (PVs). Now, storage is coming into play. Storage, in theory, is the big enabler. The sun is bright during the day and people consume in the evening; if you had storage, it would help solve the entire equation.
There might be limits to current modes of storage—and issues such as recycling remain non trivial. But electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers are sure to drive storage technology’s evolution. The technology is seemingly ramping up from 0 - 60 in seconds, as they say in the auto industry.
And breakthroughs result even more from the coupling of these innovations. Having PV panels on a rooftop only brings so much value. With storage in the mix, the prosumer can do more time-of-use shifting, backing up power, and even trading with neighbors.
Utilities must take DER management seriously. When they do, they discover that having just an isolated DERM system is not enough. The utility has to model, interconnect, manage, and orchestrate to reflect these objects in any part of their business. Just as they’d have a representation of a breaker or transformer in most of their systems, they need the same for every DER.
But, this means a lot of homework. There are many more parameters to model in a DER rather than for a simple breaker to transformer: Who does the DER belong to? Who is the aggregator? How can the grid interact with that particular device? What technology/protocol can it be interfaced with for status, for measurements or to send out controls? What are the limitations and obligations outlined in the aggregation contract? Etc.