DISTRIBUTED ENERGY RESOURCES: TRENDS AND DIFFERENTIATORS
Staying updated on the evolution of DistributedEnergy Resources (DER) can prove to be a challenging task. With the increase indemand and states like California and Hawaii mandating 100 percent cleanenergy, the push to increase use grows every month. To streamline the grid for multi-energyflows and to incorporate new, connected technologies, resources like DERs needto be put to best use to avoid impactful rate changes and disruptions.
WHAT ARE DISTRIBUTED ENERGY RESOURCES?
Distributed energy is the on-site generation,storage, and delivery of power for businesses of every size, mostly in thedistribution network. A Distributed Energy Resource (DER) is any resource onthe distribution system that produces electricity and is not otherwise includedin the formal NERC definition of the Bulk Electric System (BES). This definitionoften includes solar, wind, and battery power. With K&A Engineering locatedin the Northeast, we have seen a lot of large-scale solar distributedgeneration across this region. At the same time, wind distributed generation maymake more sense in other areas of the world.
In the last fewyears, the connection of various size distributed generation units to the powerdistribution network has increased enormously. However, these distributionsystems are traditionally designed only to have loads connected. As stateregulations change and more pilot programs with contributions from stateincentives, large-scale DER is becoming more and more prevalent throughout theUSA.
THE EVOLUTION OF DER
Utility companieshave faced massive DER interconnections in the distribution andsub-transmission systems, many of which are more than 2 MW and result in manyviolations on voltage, short circuit current, voltage flicker, harmonicdistortion, and equipment loading. Difficulties and challenges are evident inrealizing high penetrations of renewable energy.
For the past 15years, the IEEE standard 1547TM-2003 has been considered a fundamentalrequirement for Distributed Energy Resources (DER) interconnections. In 2018,this standard underwent a significant revision to incorporate the changes inDER technology and DER penetration in many places across the country. IEEE1547TM- 2018 updated the requirements regarding DER reactive capability andvoltage control functions. In the meanwhile, each utility across each state hasits standards and voltages at which they operate. Application of the DERcreates many issues as each utility has different standards for construction,protection, and overall commissioning of a DER.
BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH CONSULTANTS LIKE K&A
With every application for DER, a study must berun to analyze and measure how the implementation of DER will impact the grid.If running a DER project is going to have adverse effects on customers in theirhomes and businesses, this ends up costing utility companies significantamounts of money to make upgrades, thus raising the prices for customers. Toavoid these unnecessary costs and challenges, K&A Engineering performs astudy to determine if this system is causing adverse impacts on the grid. Thestudy allows K&A to identify if there will be adverse effects and whatupgrades are required so that we can effectively and seamlessly install thisDER system without impacting the thousands of customers on that distributionsystem. As upgrades are sometimes needed, K&A has come to help with theentire interconnection process from initial agreements and preliminary meetingswith DER developers through the design, construction, and commissioning of theDER system.
As a global organization, K&A brings thebonus of working with an international engineering team, which allows us todeliver a DER study project in 10 business days vs. the industry standard of 45days. We also pride ourselves on being very client-centric, integrating as genuinemembers of a client’s organization, as opposed to merely supplying a project orstudy and then disengaging.
When working with a partner, it’s crucial tounderstand their level of experience with modeling software and theircapabilities to run power system analysis tools. Some of these critical toolswe utilize include EMTP software, Cyme, PS-CAD, RTDS, PLS-CAD, PLS-TOWER,PLS-POLE, FAD-Foundation, among others. These tools allow the consultants tomodel a DER on the distribution grid, and analyze critical matters includingload flow, short circuit simulation, and protection review.
Everyutility faces unique challenges posed by clean energy and DER depending ongeography, policy, finances, and business model. As a leader in the integrationof DER into utility networks, K&A is actively supporting a full suite ofClean Energy services to our utility partners. These services targe systemoperators with high penetrations of intermittent and distributed generation onthe grid. K&A provides custom support to our utility partners depending ontheir needs and requirements – supporting utilities in varied climates, withvarying levels of program maturity. Our engineers, data modelers, business analysts,and process designers have decades of experience interpreting regulatoryrequirements, identifying solutions to business problems, and operationalizingprograms and solutions.