Integrating Energy Resources – through new Control Technologies, Communications, Standards and Markets.

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Improved control of electric systems, coupled with communication protocols and online systems, support interoperability of connected systems. Integration of distributed generation and the grid improve system productivity and flexibility.  This enables broader, coordinated management and control of energy and other resources that improves reliability and efficiency, enables diverse customer choices, and keeps electricity as an affordable alternative.

A first step is to create a robust, secure Integrated (electric) Grid to efficiently integrate central and distributed electric resources:

  • Develop interconnection rules and communications technology and standards. Rules and tools are needed to support real-time data transfer and to address privacy. This requires technology development and standards development along with regulatory and policy support.
  • Assess and deploy advanced distribution and reliability technologies, including smart inverters, distribution management systems, sensors, distributed energy storage, and demand response – and the communication and information technology infrastructure to tie them together. Regulatory support is needed for testing and demonstrating promising technologies.
  • Create strategies for integrating distributed energy resources with grid planning and operation for efficient and effective system planning and operations. Efficient investment and operation of the electric grid require broad, specific coordination across customer, distribution, transmission, and generation planning functions. This requires new tools and processes for companies as well as regulatory support.
  • Inform policy and regulation development to enable flexible yet reliable operation of the electric system for effective DER integration reflecting the costs and benefits of the various components and systems. Much remains to be done for providing detailed assessments and for determining costs and benefits of electric system components. Fundamental challenges include: value depends on location and on what else is connected, with the result that value will change over time.
  • Strengthen and expand the transmission system to maintain reliability and enable more flexible operation. Inspection, assessment, monitoring, and investment are needed to ensure transmission system reliability, given rapid changes in electric generation technologies and locations. Transmission system expansion will enable integration of variable generation and loads and will be essential to support electrification. New “lower-impact” substation and line designs are among the technologies needed to increase public acceptance, reduce costs, and maintain reliability.

As the Integrated Grid develops, it becomes instrumental in developing and applying comparable smart technologies for natural gas, water, and other systems. While these systems’ needs differ, they have much in common with respect to sensors/meters/switches, communication, data analysis, and cyber security architectures. They can be made interoperable through development of an architecture, operational principles, and procedures that include data format and communications systems.

  • Identify ways to integrate systems as they are automated for production, delivery, and use of electricity, natural gas, and water. Common elements among devices, architectures, and software may support and drive common interests, approaches, and solutions.
  • Assess key interfaces between gas and electric systems and markets; explore market integration. Include comprehensive consideration of environmental challenges and opportunities, integrated modeling of operations and planning, and market integration to achieve efficiency.
  • Assess key interfaces between energy and water to enable efficient water use, support more flexible operation of the electric system, and improve environmental performance.
  • Develop diverse capabilities for managing, assessing, and analyzing “big data” to meet the future energy system’s dynamic, real-time requirements.