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Flexible DG/DER interconnection and flexible operation solutions are a key component in delivering grid access to utility scale, front-of-the-meter distributed generation as well as behind-the-meter generation, energy storage and new low-carbon, flexible loads.  Flexible interconnections deliver quicker and less expensive grid connection.  This can defer or remove grid upgrade requirements and lay the foundations for new value streams in distribution grid capacity trading, DER locational values, local balancing and other use cases.  Strata Grid and Element Grid provide all the necessary capabilities for distribution utilities, DSOs and their connected customers to manage their grid interconnections.

Problem

Renewable and distributed generation development and the need to accelerate low-carbon energy developments creates a real and costly grid reinforcement problem.  Energy customers cannot fund conventional grid upgrades through their connection so flexible connection and operation is a necessity for the economically efficient development of a low-carbon energy system.

Access to grid capacity creates economic value but curtailment of clean energy must be kept to a minimum.  Connection customers need information and options to obtain grid access and also to manage and mitigate curtailment events effectively. Market-based mechanisms for trading curtailment obligations or access rights locally balance renewable energy with demand / storage, delivering enhanced and the most economically efficient flexible connections.  Flexible interconnection solutions must meet the needs of a wide range of on-site and grid scale developers and operators.

Additionally, the capacity issues from DG an DER stretch deep into the transmission system.  Transmission system operators require Distribution Utilities and DSOs to deliver operational flexibility from distribution connected assets for congestion management, reactive power support and voltage management. Compliance with government and regulatory mandates (e.g. FERC Orders 841 and 2222 in the US) for grid access, system operation coordination and market opportunities for DER require advanced solutions for DER connection and operational flexibility.

Solution

Our flexible interconnections solution is based on our market-leading Strata Grid product.  This combines preventative control approaches with corrective control methods and fail-to-safe mechanisms.  Our corrective control methods monitor the network and DER state in real-time and deliver threshold-based DER set-point control to flex the DER export or import, securing the local grid assets within their limits. Our configurable fail-to-safe mechanisms cater for DER non-compliance, communications or control failures to move the network and DER to a configured safe state, often using the local control capabilities of our Element Grid product.

Strata Grid is commonly configured to deliver on-site, point of common coupling, wide area and market integrated flexible DER control, complementing customer and local DER controls such as smart inverter functions.  This provides the host Distribution Utility or DSO with confidence that flexible connection agreements will be implemented securely, reliably and autonomously.

DG/DER customer flexible interconnection solutions can be implemented and managed using Strata Grid or Element Grid to manage site import and export constraints, overcome grid capacity issues and balance across energy assets, ranging from flexible loads and energy storage to different generation sources.  This ensures that flexibility and curtailment is managed in the customer interest, typically with a 1-5% annual range of curtailment with the ability to control this in line with a capped limit.  Customers can also trade and balance curtailment instructions through market platform integration where this is offered by distribution utilities and DSOs.

These features have been shown to maximize the DER interconnection headroom and minimize the operational curtailment, typically increasing hosting capacity and grid access by 50-100%.  Our solutions have already saved our Distribution Utility customers more than $300m in grid upgrade investment deferrals from renewable DER interconnections.

Case Studies

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