Taking Advantage of the Disruption at the Grid Edge Part 1: The DER Opportunity

Posted by Kimberly Getgen on Jul 17, 2017 10:00:00 AM
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Distributed energy resources (DERs) are mushrooming, particularly in the commercial and industrial (C&I) sector. Consider this: Between 2011 and 2015, distributed generation in the U.S. C&I sector increased by 400 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This growth represents a significant opportunity for energy and technology providers. Navigant Research says, “a new landscape is emerging in which a more sophisticated two-way grid of networked DERs is emerging which will pave the way for an Energy Cloud ecosystem valued at $1.3 trillion in new annual industry revenue by 2030.”

C&Is see clear value in DERs; some could argue they are a threat to the traditional utility business model. But we believe DERs represent more of an opportunity than a threat. If connected to an IoT network, DERs have the potential to drastically improve the customer/energy provider relationship and empower all stakeholders to capitalize on the massive transformation underway at the grid edge.

This is the first part in a four-part blog series that hopes to serve as a useful resource for those looking to capitalize on DERs and discusses how each of these stakeholder groups can take advantage of the disruption occurring at the grid edge.

Retail Energy Service Providers (RESPs) can capitalize on the needs of their largest C&I customers by developing revenue-generating services that increase resiliency and sustainability on both sides of the meter. RESPs can establish connections between behind-the-meter assets and the grid to supplement demand-based resources. Currently, most RESPs struggle with the chaos that results from trying to connect and work with legacy assets that are hard to access because they are inflexible or proprietary. With Blue Pillar’s Aurora® Energy Network of Things® platform, RESPs can harness the potential from hundreds to thousands of Megawatts of behind-the-meter DERs from legacy generators to solar and unlock the potential of these resources in a new energy paradigm.

Utilities can increase grid reliability and protect the safety of workers and customers in a more distributed world. The growth of DERs is driving the transition to a bi-directional, decentralized grid, which carries great potential benefits for safety, resilience and reliability. To reap these benefits, utilities need precise, real-time data and control. If granted access to and limited control over behind-the-meter DERs by C&I customers, utilities can tap these resources for beneficial, grid-balancing uses like Virtual Power Plants (VPP), Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems (DERMS) or automated demand management programs.

Next Generation Energy Management Application Providers are increasingly important stakeholders at the grid edge. Third-party software and architecture can streamline energy management, DERMS, meter data management, demand response optimization, management systems and distribution automation systems. With their applications, developers can create value by simplifying and automating analysis of real-time data and enabling control of energy assets currently lying dormant behind the meter. These applications can deliver the information, insight and management capabilities to stakeholders on both sides of the meter that will smooth out the transition to the energy systems of the future. When paired with a turnkey energy IoT platform that includes site enablement, applications can meet customer needs while avoiding the “necessary evil” of building behind-the-meter networks.

By bringing together the energy needs of C&Is and energy providers, Blue Pillar’s Energy IoT solution is quickly becoming the connective tissue that is networking DERs to pave the way for new, innovative energy services, from microgrids to demand response and DERMS – across all stakeholders.

Want to learn more about new opportunities at the grid edge? Check out Part 2 in the series later this week or download our Energy Service Provider Case Study to learn how one nationwide energy provider is connecting behind-the-meter DERs to bring transformation to the grid edge.

Topics: Internet of Things, Energy IoT, DER, Energy Providers, DERs