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DER: Powering the Future

Distributed energy resources (DER) is certainly one of the ways to generate power that will continue growing in the future. According to Navigant Research, the global annual revenue from DER capacity is expected to increase by 15.9% between 2019 and 2028. Part of what’s driving the growth is the expansion from a centralized, one-way electrical grid to two-way communication.

One of the most popular DER tools is Solar PV systems. And renewable energy, as a whole, is on the rise. While it’s always been prevalent, federal governments are behind renewable energy and supporting its adaptation. (Some states have even committed to being fully renewable over the next couple decades.) It not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but also the cost of renewable energy has gone down significantly. Additionally, there’s a business case for municipalities, as it can be harnessed and sold effectively.

DER enables customers to get power more locally. Anyone who has land and an interest can generate power to sell back to the market. The generating entity can be hundreds of miles away from the substation in rural areas and get transmitted across transmission lines. And some governments are incentivizing it. While this is an incredible innovation for power generation, it also complicates the distribution of power to (and from) customers.

DER requires impact studies to determine how much power is being generated and is coming and going from customers to the grid. Customers generating their own power affects the distribution of power for all the local customers in the area. DER impact studies determine how customers generating their own renewable energy will impact all power customers on a localized level.

DER impact studies are typically done proactively, prior to a local renewable energy distribution site being connected to the grid. However, because the technology is constantly changing (and interest and adoption is growing), it’s necessary to continuously study the flow – sometimes biyearly or quarterly. Utilities hire energy consultants, like K&A, to run studies from start to finish to ensure residents and customers do not see any issues with newly implemented DER.

As we get more and more renewable energy, demand management will become more visible locally, in the way of smarter appliances and thermostats, for example. These tools will help dispatch smaller electrical loads to reduce the burden of facilities. Apartment complexes, as an example, will be on their own microgrid, integrated with the main grid.

The direction we’re headed with renewable energy and how DER will help how effectively and efficiently we will use and distribute power is exciting. As the technology evolves, K&A will be at the forefront of innovation, leading the future of DER.

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