Increased use of renewable energy is imperative for businesses, communities and individuals around the globe. But when it comes to large-scale deployment of renewable sources like wind and solar, reliability has traditionally been the biggest factor limiting wider adoption. For societies that depend on power every moment of every day, reliability is quite simply non-negotiable.
With powerful software and automation solutions, we see a future where renewable and reliable power is realized at scale. It starts with a reimagining of the power plant, transforming the single-source, physical plants of the past to “virtual power plants” that aggregate multiple smaller power resources (called distributed energy resources, or DERS) and shift power generation among them in real time to deliver the highest levels of reliability. Imagine a virtual plant that combines wind, solar, hydro, biomass and other clean energy sources, using these renewable sources when they’re available, and switching to backup natural gas or other traditional resources when needed.
We are getting closer and closer to making that vision a reality every day. In September 2020, the Federal Electrical Regulatory Commission passed an order (FERC 2222) that removed regulatory barriers preventing renewable DERS from competing in the energy market alongside traditional power generation and distribution sources. At the same time, new software like the Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) from Emerson’s OSI digital grid solutions enables the “virtual power plant” by integrating the power generated from individual renewable energy sources into an interconnected, centralized system capable of safely and smartly providing reliable power to the grid.
This makes it possible for operators to manage renewable energy sources in real time, forecasting availability among DERS sources and economically optimizing power generation to maximize usage of renewable resources, as well as overall reliability and affordability.?
Emerson’s DERMS software is currently operational or being deployed at a number of major North American utilities, empowering active management of DERS to enable increased, reliable use of renewable energy in the years ahead.
Of course, the shift toward “virtual power plants” also creates a new environment for operators to manage, accelerating the trend toward integrated, remote operations centers, as opposed to plant-by-plant management. Centralized operations make it more efficient to manage disparate energy sources across large geographic regions.
Emerson’s OSI digital grid software platform?helps operators integrate management of multiple plants and energy resources in one location to optimize performance, maintain operations and support grid stability. As Emerson works with major energy providers in the North and South Americas to remotely centralize operations of geographically dispersed renewable sources, our innovative platform will help them securely connect potentially hundreds of renewable energy sources into one center.?
With centralized management and solutions like DERMS, renewable energy sources will become increasingly more automated, boosting the efficiency of a wide range of sources, from wind, solar and hydro to biomass and energy storage. As we effectively marshal the resources of a wider and wider array of renewables, we see an opportunity to meet the imperative to deliver reliable and affordable renewable energy.