Brainstorming the Grid of the Future

December 4, 2014 By Linda Hardesty

pollThe GridWise Alliance has released a report entitled “The Future of the Grid: Evolving to Meet America’s Needs.”

Over the course of six months, from late 2013 through the spring of 2014, the US Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and the GridWise Alliance held four regional workshops across the country to engage industry stakeholders. The workshops were attended by more than 240 thought leaders from utilities, regulators, state government officials, renewable energy providers, vendors, consumer advocates, academia, and third-party innovators.

 

A new concept that the stakeholders envision in the future is retail market exchanges for consumers to not only buy and sell electricity but also energy services in an open market. The retail market exchanges would support the true value of renewable energy, traditional energy, capacity, distribution, transmission, aggregation, and other services.

The focus groups also agreed that microgrids will play a major role in the future grid and will either operate in parallel or in island mode as needed. Microgrids will be owned by utilities, communities, non-profits and businesses, and they will act as new responsive loads or provide ancillary services in the retail market.

Participants in the workshops agreed energy storage will be a key component in future system design, but it will not replace the need for dispatchable generation. The grid operator, as well as microgrid owners/operators, will leverage energy storage along with responsive loads and dispatchable generation sources to optimize operation of the system.

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