Home News 3 Trends That Shaped the Grid Edge in 2019

3 Trends That Shaped the Grid Edge in 2019


It isn&; rsquo;t simple to transform rsquo & into a century;s value of electricity infrastructure in the ground up, particularly in the face of firestorms. 

In return in 2019’s most important developments about the grid border — GTM's term for the port of the traditional utility enterprise with rooftop solar panels, behind-the-meter batteries, plug-in electric vehicles and other distributed energy resources (DERs) — it’s difficult to overstate the impact of California’s wildfires and electricity outages about the U.S. marketplace.

Over the span of 2019, we’ve seen California, the country’therefore chief in many DERs, wracked with a climate-change-induced crisis that’s bankrupted its biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, and forced countless proceed without electricity during fire-prevention blackouts. The catastrophe has made the future of PG&E as an investor-owned usefulness in doubt and forced the state to face the prices of transforming its power infrastructure to decarbonize its market and prevent future disasters. 

At exactly the same time, California’s catastrophe has surfaced as a significant opportunity for DERs. State regulators have responded not only with orders to get multibillion-dollar grid-hardening investments but also with policies to market battery-backed solar strategies for people most at risk from fires and blackouts.

California’s community-choice aggregators, a growing force in the nation, have also taken dispersed solar-storage jobs  to protect their most vulnerable customers. 

As California goes, so goes the national tendencies, which seems particularly true of problems. Wood Mackenzie projects that California’s catastrophe will drive a substantial increase from the “join rates” of batteries into California home solar systems next year, fostering prospects for important vendors like Sunrun, SunPower, Enphase and even potentially Tesla. 

There are many moving parts as soon as it regards the transformation of this grid edge. But here are just three of specific importance.

The movement toward aggregated DERs 

Solar-plus-storage as backup energy is demonstrating its value across the country, including areas where you might not expect it. Vermont usefulness Green Mountain Power’s fleet of Tesla Powerwall batteries in houses retained more than 1,000 customers powered through blackouts that fall.

Blackouts remain rare in many areas, which means that so as to cover their way over time, backup batteries have to be able to donate even when the grid is currently running shaving peak loads, cutting capacity charges, arbitraging on-peak versus off-peak rates or doing other tasks.

Acts can become even more powerful when DERs have been allowed to behave in concert. But utilities and not all areas offer DERs the opportunity to aggregate. 

That is changing. We’t seen early examples of the possibilities for aggregated DERs in energy markets in California, where solar-battery systems and smart thermostats have been enlisted to store and alter energy. Hawaii unveiled its initial large-scale, third party DER aggregation this year, beginning with Sunrun solar-battery systems.

Areas are starting to find chances for DERs to participate at the market level. Grid operator ISO New England made adjustments to its economy rules last year that opened up chances in 2019 for solar, battery and demand-side DER aggregators in Massachusetts. 

There's still a very long road ahead and other key DER-integration initiatives saw success .

By way of instance, regulatory efforts from California, New York, Hawaii and Minnesota for utilities to contract to DERs because non-wires options to grid investments are struggling to yield workable models for matching projects to third party providers. Such stumbles, although inevitable in regulatory efforts, underscore the slow speed of change at American utilities.

That’s not to mention rsquo utilities aren &;t that DERs will define their future.  In Arizona, regulators have contributed utilities permission to impose demand charges and fixed prices on solar customers, while also funding some of the country’s many advanced DER integration projects.

From the Carolinas, Duke Energy is building a utility-owned dispersed battery portfolio from kilowatt into megawatt scale in hopes of adding 300 megawatts into its own system from the decade’s end. 

M&A to achieve utility scale

The European and European U.S. energy companies and oil majors that have driven that a wave of consolidation over the last few years continued to snatch up DER startups and commercial-scale rivals in 2019.

Royal Dutch Shell, one of the very prolific acquirers, racked up three distinct DER acquisitions at the initial three months of this season — U.S.-based EV charging network provider Greenlots in January, German battery-solar rival sonnen in February, and U.K-based demand response provider Limejump in March. 

Shell also took bets in retail energy markets, rebranding U.K. energy provider First Energy since Shell Energy Retail in March and obtaining renewable energy retailer Hudson Energy in October. Last month, it closed its order of Australian merchant ERM Power, giving it access to one s fastest-growing solar-storage markets. 

Other European giants created acquisitions.  Engie acquired Genbright, a U.S. solar, storage and demand response startup, also required a majority stake in Tiko, a Swiss DER aggregator seeking to expand from Europe into the U.S. and Australia.

Centrica created a similar investment in GreenCom Networks and Mixergy; it also acquired U.S. energy services firm SmartWatt

Beyond covering the bases for probable DER expansion, acquisitions such as these provide startups the backing to reach utility scale. That’therefore the logic supporting the summer’s creation of Uplight, a personal equity-backed merger of Tendril and Simple Energy, 2 U.S. startups with numerous utility customers, adding in three other startups Tendril had lately acquired: EEmeEnergySavvy and FirstFuel Software

Google and Amazon taking over the grid edge 

Talking of Uplight, the company is a participant in another intriguing improvement on the grid border: a partnership between Google and AES Corp. Announced intended to tap on the research giant’encourage new renewables projects and s computing might to update the grid.  

Tech giants such as Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook have become a significant driver of sustainable energy procurements from the U.S., with their constant demands for clean data-center electricity

They’ve made inroads into parts. Beyond breaking new renewable portfolio normal documents and promising millions of dollars for clean-powered manufacturing this year, Google took the unusual step in joining two regional transmission organizations, an indicator of its clout for a power buyer. 

But it’s on the other side of the meter at which Google and Amazon may locate the grid advantage traction that is best — by using their conquest of their voice device marketplace that is assistant. Over 66 million U.S. households have VADs, and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables predicts which they will become the dominant home energy management port in years to come.

Amazon and Google, that hold roughly two-thirds and one-quarter of this U.S. VAD marketplace, respectively, both have extensive partnerships and investments in technologies to function as”smart home” market, including energy management. 

Some of Google’s efforts this year included use Tendril/Uplight and several U.S. utilities on allowing VADs to answer spoken questions about utility bills into data-informed replies , rather than canned answers, in addition to partnerships to tap Nest thermostats to get grid earnings from California.

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