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Is the Grid Ready for Distributed Resources?

William Opalka

MicrogridThe utility industry’s research arm has started studies of the rapid rise of distributed energy resources (DER) and how best to integrate them into the grid.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is studying the transformation of the electric power grid brought about by large numbers of rooftop solar panels and high tech microgrids.

Few organizations have looked at how these technologies could be integrated into the electric power systems so customers can enjoy the benefit of both the central power system and the distributed technologies in the most cost-effective way, EPRI says. The potential for this “integrated grid” is a transformation in the ways that electric power is supplied and used.

This transformation could be fundamental, which would require assessments of the costs and opportunities of different technological and policy pathways to fully integrate DER.

The new paper is the first in a series of integrated grid studies from EPRI and outlines an action plan that needs to be addressed by all stakeholders with examples to support fact-based discussions.  The study builds upon EPRI research the lessons learned from Germany’s experience with the extensive deployment of distributed solar PV and wind resources. The paper describes a critical need for collaborative solutions, including:

Updating interconnection rules and communication standards that enable distributed resources to integrate with the grid;

  • Deploying advanced distribution and reliability technologies that provide flexibility and connectivity for distributed resources and system operators;
  • Integrating DER into grid planning and operation;
  • Informing policy and regulation to enable transformation to the Integrated Grid.


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