Blue Pillar Expands Aurora Energy Network Platform For Utilities & Energy Providers

Jun 3 2016

Blue Pillar has released an update of its Aurora Energy Network of Things platform, designed to address the needs of energy service providers and utility grid operators.

By Glenn Meyers 


Behind-the-meter connectivity


This next generation release brings utility grade enhancements that simplify behind-the-meter connectivity and control of distributed energy resources and generation assets.

In conjunction with the new Aurora platform announcement, Blue Pillar has also released Facility of the Future™ Framework, a blueprint for addressing the energy needs of commercial and industrial customers.
cleantech_image.pngAccording to Blue Pillar, this framework showcases how assets, services, and applications can utilize open Energy Network of Things connectivity and control in order to create new opportunities for providing energy efficiency, resiliency, and self-sufficiency solutions to the largest of facilities.

Blue Pillar CEO Tom Willie describes a vision of disrupting how commercial and industrial energy assets can be connected and controlled to help complex facilities become more energy efficient, resilient, and self-sufficient. To date, this vision is being effectively demonstrated.

“It’s a vision that has propelled us to deploy hundreds of the world’s most complex facilities and connect thousands of energy assets,” said Willie. “When we began working with these customers, two things became clear to us. First, grid-focused utilities looking to manage distributed energy resources (DERs) needed information and insight into these behind-the-meter energy assets, almost like an extension to their SCADA network. Second, there was a significant opportunity for our energy solution provider customers like NRG to create facilities of the future.”

For background, Blue Pillar began in 2006, using IoT technology to provide ubiquitous connectivity to Emergency Power Supply Systems (EPSS), diesel generators, microgrids and distributed generation resources, primarily in hospitals. In 2014, the company created its Centralized Facility Management platform, expanding energy management across multisite facilities. Today with over 400 hospitals and 400 MW connected, Blue Pillar’s Aurora platform now also includes meter connectivity and real-time access to energy consumption data.

Proliferation of distributed generation

“According to GTM Research’s DER Management Systems 2014 Report, the proliferation of distributed generation is having an undeniably profound effect on the utility industry, not only threatening to disrupt existing business models, but also jeopardizing grid stability,” said Omar Saadeh, senior grid analyst at GTM Research. “With behind-the-meter connectivity, distribution utilities can gain a heightened level of control and flexibility to more effectively manage the technical and economic challenges posed by an increasingly distributed grid, while offering C+I customers more differentiated services.”

In addition to helping energy service providers, Blue Pillar officials anticipate the Aurora platform can solve some of the biggest challenges facing regulated utilities.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, distributed generation assets among the commercial and industrial sector grew 400% from 2010-2015. These included solar, wind, microturbines, fuel cells, and conventional natural gas-fired CHP).

Such a DER proliferation is increasing utilities’ need for real-time metrics and control that takes place behind-the-meter. Utilities need standards-based open networks for connectivity, data aggregation, and control. 
Similar to how the rollout of millions of smart meters created the need for Advanced Meter Infrastructures (AMI), Blue Pillar expects the proliferation of microgrids and DERs will create a need for a Distributed Generation Infrastructure (DGI). Aurora creates a secured DGI network between the utility and their customers’ distributed energy resources, which can ultimately become an extension of the utility’s grid.

“With this new level of visibility and control starting behind-the-meter, utilities can leverage Aurora to optimize DERs in a way that will increase grid efficiency, ensure higher levels of reliability and protect safety,” said a spokesperson.

New Utility Grade Aurora Platform Enhancements

This next generation Aurora platform includes expanded functionality, specifically designed for energy service providers and grid operators, including:

  • Availability of new interface and control protocols including DNP 3.0, OpenADR 2.0a VEN, and ICCP to be combined with existing support for OPC UA, Modbus, SNMP, LONWorks, and BACnet.

  • Data aggregation into a public or private cloud-based service, which allows for a robust backend data management platform with distributed data storage and support for multiple time zones. This provides the scalability needed to support multi-site deployments in geographically dispersed regions.

  • An extensive pre-integrated library of energy efficiency, resiliency, and self-sufficiency software applications, which can be utilized by energy service providers as turn-key offerings to C+I facility customers.

  • Unified architecture and open-API support, which allows for plug-and-play integration to third-party facility focused energy applications or DERMS applications solutions, such as grid balancing, load shedding, voltage optimization or demand-side management.

  • An auto-configuring Blue Pillar Auroragateway for equipment connectivity, managed via an automated survey tool, which avoids the programming and customization typical of costly energy equipment integrations.

  • Platform cyber security support from sensor to cloud, providing the most advanced security supported with third-party authentication of industry best practices.

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