US utility announces launch of distributed-energy management system


From pv magazine USA

Major California utility PG&E has launched a distributed energy management system (DERMS) in partnership with Schneider Electric. The cloud-based DERMS operates on Microsoft Azure.

The software is intended to enable greater amounts of distributed energy to participate on the grid, responding to periods of extreme weather or heavy electricity demand. PG&E said the software enables faster grid connections.

The platform, called EcoStruxure DERMS, collects and analyzes data for resources like electric vehicles, rooftop solar, battery energy storage, and microgrids. The data then provides grid operators with improved coordination and communication to help demonstrate and unlock the value of flexible grid resources.

Microsoft, Schneider Electric, and PG&E will work collaboratively to achieve a new utility-industry standard for integrating distributed energy resources at scale. The collaboration is an example of Schneider Electric’s “Grid to Prosumer philosophy.

“A stepwise approach is key in [distributed energy resources] implementation to effectively handle short-term goals and prepare for the long-term vision,” said Schneider Electric.

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PG&E serves more than 16 million people across Northern and Central California. The utility has over 700,000 rooftop solar customers and 55,000 battery energy storage customers connected to its grid. This equates to over 500 MW of local, flexible resources ready to efficiently coordinate electricity use.

The utility also has more than 1.2 GW of grid-scale energy storage online, and that is expected to reach 1.7 GW by September. It has contracts for more than 3 GW of storage to be deployed over the next few years.

PG&E is preparing the grid to power and support three million EVs on the road in its service area by 2030, with goals of more than two million EVs participating in vehicle-grid-integration initiatives. A DERMS software platform is a ready-made fit for coordinating these resources.

“This methodology empowers utility companies to digitally transform to achieve their sustainability, efficiency, reliability, and flexibility goals,” said Schneider Electric.

The three have identified several initial use cases for the system:

  • Real-time visibility into all DERs. Enhanced situational awareness of grid impacts, both in real-time and with forecasted lookahead, plus instant alerts for improved operations planning.
  • System capacity for peak summer days. Visualized DER capacity, timely impact analysis, customer feedback (measurement and verification), and additional DER capacity.
  • Local capacity for new service connections and interconnections. Oversight of interconnection requests enables utilities to leverage actionable data to faster evaluate and process DER connection requests and streamline processes that ensure resilience.
  • Reliability and resilience with energy storage. Utility-owned & aggregator-provided storage asset dispatch for improving local reliability and network deferral (non-wire alternatives).
  • Transportation electrification. Integration, managed charging and vehicle-to-grid coordination for residential vehicles and commercial fleets.

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