What are Distributed Energy Resources?
Distributed energy resources (DER) is the term used to describe the many types of energy generation and storage technologies that provide electric capacity or energy where it is needed. With smaller outputs than traditional generating resources like centralized power plants, DER systems are often sized to meet the requirements of a particular site. They may be connected to the local electric power grid or distribution system or isolated from it for dedicated use.
DER systems like rooftop solar panels, battery energy storage systems, distribution-connected commercial wind farms, and solar plants account for an increasing amount of the power fed into the electrical grid, helping to reduce society’s dependence on fossil fuels and reduce emissions. However, their growing numbers, variable and unpredictable output, and remote, independent operation are making it more difficult to operate the grid safely, efficiently, and reliably.
If distributed energy sources could be more efficiently aggregated, managed, and dispatched in large groups rather than individually, the critical balance between energy supply and demand could be better managed. Also, new grid services could be offered, such as the ability to market excess power profitably on a wholesale basis.
What are Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems?
Distributed energy resource management systems (DERMS) provide these capabilities. A DERMS is a software-based platform used to manage various distributed energy resource (DER) assets to balance power supply and demand and to deliver grid-based services. Until now, however, there hasn’t been a general understanding of appropriate guiding principles, core functions, and the required functional specifications for DERMS systems, but the need is urgent.
Guiding the Integration of Distributed and Renewable Energy
In late 2020 the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Order 2222, enabling DER aggregators to compete in all regional organized wholesale electric markets for the first time, encouraging widespread adoption of more electricity generation from DERs.
Not only does IEEE 2030.11™-2021, Guide for Distributed Energy Resources Management Systems (DERMS) Functional Specification address these needs, but the consensus-based standards development process at IEEE Standards Association (IEEE SA) and the diverse membership of the IEEE 2030.11 Working Group was instrumental in helping to shape the policy and regulatory framework FERC Order 2222 relies upon. The work was initiated with administrative, logistical, and other support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Electricity (OE), which has referred to IEEE SA as a key source for the standards and guidelines needed to drive integration of distributed, renewable energy sources.
As the latest standard in a body of DER management standards development work including the IEEE 1547™ series and IEEE 2030.7™, IEEE 2030.11 is regarded by DOE-OE as a significant contribution that will help to drive the increased use of distributed, renewable energy resources, and their associated environmental benefits for decades.
Basic Principles and Core Functions for Distributed Energy Resources Aggregation
IEEE 2030.11 provides overall guidance for the application and deployment of DERMS and DERMS control systems. It proposes a set of core functions, including DER discovery/visualization; monitoring of real and reactive power loads and voltage at specific nodes; and related functional requirements. It also provides guidance on DER production estimation and scheduling; dispatch of real and reactive power; and provision of DER ancillary services such as voltage and frequency control/support.
This guide also gives direction on how to integrate two existing and increasingly popular ways to aggregate distributed energy resources into DERMS; namely, virtual power plants (VPPs) and microgrids. VPPs and microgrids are often thought to be different names for the same thing, but they are entirely different entities.
VPPs have no fixed boundaries and are formed for the sole purpose of aggregating DER to enable bulk power sales. They can be problematic for the grid because the VPP operators don’t take transmission reliability constraints into account, and they also don’t always necessarily understand the process of power dispatch, which is fundamental to grid management.
By contrast, microgrids have fixed boundaries and their output feeds a utility’s local distribution system. Unlike VPPs, they can “island,” or disconnect from the grid if necessary, to ensure that they can deliver critical loads within their boundaries when needed.
In addition, a growing number of small to mid-sized DER facilities are being connected to the transmission and sub-transmission systems. This requires their coordinated management by the transmission system operators to enable their safe and reliable integration in the grid. IEEE 2030.11 also addresses the management of those DER facilities.
Benefits to Multiple Stakeholders
IEEE 2030.11 is intended to set forth guiding principles, provide a common language and define core functionalities for a DERMS to a wide range of stakeholders, including vendors, utilities, energy service providers, developers, standards organizations, and governing bodies.
For utilities, the guide shows how to develop a more sophisticated DER integration capability than currently exists, offering a more detailed view of the grid structure and enabling utilities to develop the specific solutions needed to operate their systems safely and reliably in the presence of high penetration of DER.
For aggregators, IEEE 2030.11 describes everything needed to interact with the power grid safely and reliably in order to conduct business, while strongly emphasizing the need and responsibility for strong cybersecurity processes and practices.
For businesses, campuses, and individuals, IEEE 2030.11 enables them to more easily maximize the value of their rooftop or other generation resources, by selling their excess power to an aggregator, rather than simply giving it away to the local utility.
The growing number of large-scale solar and wind power installations pose meaningful challenges for grid operation. A case in point was the sudden, unexpected loss of about 1,200 MW of solar power generation capability in California in 2016 – enough power for more than 10,000 homes – as a result of the Blue Cut wildfire.
As the penetration grows and technology of inverter-based resources evolves, specifications and standards are needed to address performance requirements. The IEEE P2800™ Wind and Solar Plant Interconnection Performance Working Group was established to build a consensus on the requirements for inverter-based resources interconnected with transmission and sub-transmission systems.
Another key task is to look at ways to incorporate DERMS into the coming electrification of transportation. To that end, the IEEE P2030.13 Working Group has a goal to provide a guide for the development of a functional specification for fast-charging station management and control systems for electric transportation, including energy management and grid-interaction functions.
– Geza Joos, IEEE 2030.11 Working Group Chair
– Anthony Johnson, IEEE 2030.11 Working Group Vice Chair
– Robert Cummings, IEEE 2030.11 Working Group Vice Chair
– James Reilly, IEEE 2030.11 Working Group Secretary
– Jon Grooters, IEEE 2030.11 Working Group Participant