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Grid Giants Contend for Dominance at the Distributed Edge [GTM Squared]


SAN ANTONIO — The power grid company is more about integrating renewable energy and distributed energy sources at scale. Ask any grid seller at DistribuTech, the nation ’s annual utility industry trade show. 

Just like years past, this year’s DistribuTech conference featured a dizzying variety of technology to monitor, manage and orchestrate electricity that’s progressively coming from rooftop solar PV, behind the meter batteries, plug in electric vehicles or commercial-industrial microgrids. Additionally, it highlighted the software innovations that are enabling utilities to exploit demand-side resources to balance their growing wind and solar combination , or exploit smart meter information for customer and grid insights through energy disaggregation technology. 

We’ve ever monitored the year-by-year progress from grid giants like General ElectricSiemens, ABB and Schneider Electric in bridging the gap between conventional grid technology and the new universe of distributed energy sources (DERs) and electronic networks. Much of this work falls under the rubric of energy resource management method, or DERMS — a phrase that means different things, based on how the technology is placed together. 

Schneider Electric and AutoGrid's guarantee

Just take the evolving definition of DERMS from Schneider Electric, the French electricity and grid technology giant which ’therefore obtained or invested in dozens of startups and a small number of coequals in its different fields.

Among its most recent investments has been its 10% stake in AutoGrid, which came with strategies to exploit the Silicon Valley startup’s machine learning and information analytics software for distributed energy controllers. 

At this week’s DistribuTech, both announced the fruits of this effort — an integration of Schneider’s Ecostruxure advanced distribution management system (ADMS), also a much-used distribution grid control system, together with AutoGrid’s Flex platform. The integration is supposed to provide a view for & ldquo; refining, forecasting, modeling and orchestrating versatility & rdquo to utility grid operators; out of resources ranging from batteries and generators to both appliances and thermostats. 

Many modern ADMS platforms include the capacity to tap into information out of DERs, and dispatch or constrain them in response to grid operator demands. But since Amit Narayan, AutoGrid CEO, explained in a meeting at DistribuTech, “to have the ability to attract those behind-the-meter resources in, you need to know not just the qualities of the resources, but equally importantly, the contracts with all the clients that decide what it is possible to dispatch, what limits you’ve got.” 

“The ADMS doesn’t have some of the info,” Narayan stated — but AutoGrid’s system does. 

The startup’s no requirement reaction optimization software is used by utilities throughout the nation, including San Antonio utility CPS Energy, which has about 200 megawatts of load under management, and also from then National Grid to manage approximately 400 megawatts of need funds in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It’s also orchestrating behind-the-meter heaps and DERs for clients from North America, Europe and Asia, which range from industrial heating and heating  systems to behind-the-meter batteries

A good deal of information must be collected and analyzed to track both capacities and constraints of a broad portfolio of DERswhen theyrsquo;re being relied upon by grid operators. However, &ldquo you can’t get the correct choices,” Narayan said. &ldquoWe bring everything ’so accessible within that context for a feeder or circuit, along with the ADMS makes that visible, and will make those choices based on that ability of the end apparatus. ”

The Schneider-AutoGrid integration uses the IEEE 2030.5 conventional  to exchange commands and data, and can be used with other ADMS platforms and utility programs, Narayan noted. That’s helpful for utilities trying to fix issues on specific circuits, such as managing DERs that were commissioned as a non-wires option to a conventional grid upgrade, also “we’re operating with [non-wires alternative] suppliers and aggregators” on this sort of integration, including California behind-the-meter battery powered aggregator Swell, he said. 

The same sort of DER management skills will also be available to clients who aren’t working with a utility ADMS, such as business and industrial clients, he said.  Schneider is a large player in seas and distant microgrids, has many showcase utility microgrid projects with Duke Energy and Oncor, also is bringing modular microgrids to promote with partners like Scale Microgrid Solutions

Modularity is essential for Schneider and other grid leaders in dealing with DERs from the actual world, said Scott Koehler, vice president of plan for Schneider’s smart grid IT division.

“One matter which ’required discipline, and s really important, is developing a DERMS that’s lightweight, small, modular, and suitable for a non-wires alterative on a feeder,” Koehler stated. 

Since DERs within the field might not have the ability to communicate using an ADMS in actual time, the machine in place must have the ability to manage their operations of pest control, he added. “This permits a DERMS to talk having an ADMS, ‘I have this program that is curtailment; I have this support. ’ Normally the ADMS doesn’t have some idea. ” 

Such jobs are made easier using AutoGrid’therefore software available via spouse AWS’s cloud support, he noted. “We can perform a single example of DERMS that’s on a single server, incorporate right with DER and dispatch them, or integrate with a ADMS. ” 

ABB’s grid edge portfolio in transition into Hitachi

ABB, among the world’s earliest power grid systems firms, produced waves in late 2018 using its decision to market on industrial automation and robotics by advertising 80 percent of its own power grids company into Japan’s Hitachi for roughly $11 billion. 

The deal will see ABB’s venerable power grid , which now ranges from high-voltage transmission systems and transformers to supply grid controllers and battery powered systems, fill a lost link in Hitachi’s electricity businesses, which range from large-scale generation assets to electronic house and construction energy controllers and solutions. 

M. Maxine Ghavi, head of ABB Grid Edge Solutions, declined to comment on the ABB-Hitachi joint venture in a Tuesday interview at DistribuTech, or discuss the improvement of the trade, set to close in the first half of this season. But she did figure out the way the company unit’s grid automation platforms, microgrid and construction energy controllers, and energy storage design and integration capabilities — a mix ABB calls its “e-mesh” electronic ecosystem — matches right in an increasingly distributed energy landscape. 

ABB has been constructing microgrids for remote significant loads for decades now, as well as integrating them into larger grids using increasing levels of renewable power , she noticed. That experience has fed into ABB’s PowerStore energy storage company, which involves its own flywheel grid-balancing technology, also batteries from different vendors. In the last year, ABB has fostered its microgrid efforts with partnerships using generator manufacturer Rolls-Royce and Swiss fund manager and energy storage investor SUSI Partners

On the software and networking facet, Grid Edge Solutions includes its ADMS, SCADA, EMS and microgrid controllers, as well as integration using ABB’s enterprise digital solutions’ package of strength management and information analytics program. But under all these resources, “our core industry is energy direction and about energy optimization,” Ghavi stated — and that usually means integrating DERs at scale. 

In 2017, ABB picked Enbala because its chief DERMS spouse, integrating together and investing in the startup’s technology for aggregating and controlling fast-responding industrial and commercial loads to energy and ancillary services markets. Enbala has enlarged into broader projects with utilities comprising a broader collection of behind-the-meter resources, including its 1,000-home solar-battery virtual power plant job with Australian viability AGL. 

These experiences are reflected in the improvements to Enbala&rsquosoftware system, dubbed Concerto, announced at this week’s DistribuTech. The listing of DERs in Concerto’s library now extends into solar-storage systems including the Tesla and SolarEdge systems used by AGL, an selection of gensets and combined heating and power systems, and legacy requirement response systems, also will include electric vehicle charging systems after this year, construction on a pilot started annually using Canada’s Alectra Utilities.

Every one these DERs are being nominated in the Skagerak Arena soccer stadium in Skien, Norway, Ghavi stated. The project, established in 2018 this past year and finished, includes an rooftop solar array, batteries, EV chargers plus some houses. Additionally, it has optimization and control technology to balance the operations of those assets against electricity market costs — “It’s the exact same control technology, but the program differs,” ” she said. 

ABB is growing cloud versions of its tracking and control software for clients without capacity, as well as cloud-based analytics and optimization add-ons for company clients and utilities that have them, ” she said. Much like many of its competitors, the end goal is always to & challenges and ldquo; enable services & rdquo; for clients with increasingly complicated energy options, ” she said. “As we now consider different applications for the platform, we’re looking at flexibility. ” 

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