Understanding the interconnection of distributed energy resources (DER)


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The growth of distributed energy resources presents huge opportunities both in front and behind the meter, but the process of interconnecting to the grid could still be much smoother, says Jason Allnutt, Conformity Assessment Program Specialist for the Meter. ‘IEEE Standards Association. .

The adoption of distributed energy resources (RED) is booming around the world. DERs bring unique benefits to the global energy landscape that power plants, power plants and long-distance transmission and distribution could not on their own. DERs make it possible to generate electricity when and where it is most needed, and decentralizing electricity generation can contribute to a considerably safer and resilient facility for delivering electricity. DERs interconnected with the grid allow a utility to better manage peak demand, avoid transmission overloads and maintain the flow of electricity to its customers.

But the interconnection of batteries, combined heat and power (CHP), solar, wind and other DERs is not without its challenges. For example, utilities, DER developers and DER owners are not always on the same page about exactly how to undertake an installation and who is responsible for which part of the interconnection process. In addition, there is a constant debate between utilities, commercial customers and public service commissions (PUCs) around interconnection rules. Major failures usually amplify these kinds of misunderstandings.

It is crucial that stakeholders across the DER landscape share a common understanding of DER interconnections, especially with regard to what needs to be done by whom during installation and in the field. Although type and production testing are well defined and performed by manufacturers or independent test labs, field work such as commissioning and verification varies widely across different organizations and jurisdictions, and the outcome can be frustrating with delays and costly missteps.

IEEE 1547 â„¢, the IEEE standard for the interconnection and interoperability of distributed energy resources with the interfaces of associated power supply systems, is an essential resource for the wide range of DER stakeholders:

  • Owners, planners, designers and operators of electrical power systems

  • Electricity consumers

  • Equipment manufacturers

  • Systems integrators

  • DER staff

  • Energy efficiency and demand response planners

  • Regulatory and government bodies

The standard provides technical guidance for the interconnection and interoperability between utility power supply systems and DERs of all types and sizes. In addition to covering general requirements, IEEE 1547 also addresses key specifics such as islanding, power quality, response to abnormal conditions and test specifications and requirements for design, production, assessment of the installation, commissioning and periodic testing of DERs.

Utility power systems were not originally designed to connect to active DERs. The product of a balanced and globally open consensus development process, IEEE 1547 was originally released in 2003 and proposed the first performance, operation, test, security and maintenance criteria and requirements for the DER with an aggregate capacity of 10 mega-volt-amps (MVA) or less at the common coupling point. Legislation (for example, the US Energy Policy Act of 2005), regulatory deliberations, utility engineering, and business practices around the world have often cited the standard in the years since.

Also during this time, the standard has steadily evolved in a regular cycle of revisions to keep abreast of new challenges, opportunities and technological innovations in the DER market, as power delivery systems have become more digital and more controllable. . The standard was last revised in 2018, and the global growth of DER grid interconnects was a major influence in the latest changes to IEEE 1547. The United States National Association of Regulatory Commissioners (NARUC) approved a resolution in 2020 that recommended its member regulatory bodies, such as state PUCs, to urge stakeholders to adopt 1547-2018.

And yet, the exact way in which IEEE 1547 is exploited to inform DER interconnections across markets is not consistent, which is understandable given the significant regional differences in DER reliance. Some jurisdictions are only at the start of adoption. Others have already reached important implementation milestones, such as increased requirements for the switch to renewables, regulatory changes regarding leasing and net metering, incentives to build commercial and residential DER systems. on a small scale, the introduction of interconnected DER district virtual power plants. and / or DER-based micro-grids, etc.

The IEEE Conformity Assessment Program (ICAP), a program of the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE SA), works with several utility partners: Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE), Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), Dominion Energy, Duke Energy and Orange & Rockland Utilities (O&R) —to develop a certification program to bring clarity and consistency to DER interconnections. In addition to providing documentation for a uniform IEEE 1547 commissioning process and other DER interconnection educational materials, the IEEE 1547 Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Interconnection: Education and Credentialing program is intended to enable identification, training and certification of qualified persons for commissioning. DER interconnections installed.

In this way, the next IEEE program is aimed at professionals who work in the field on electrical systems, inspectors, engineers in utility boards, engineering companies that provide commissioning services and others. professionals involved in the DER interconnection process. Utilities will be a particularly crucial benefactor, as adoption of the program will help expand their access to independent, trained and accredited professionals to carry out the commissioning, without the organizational burden of having to train and maintain them- same this resource.

DER stakeholders around the world are encouraged to visit the IEEE 1547 Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Interconnection: Education and Credentialing Program or contact [email protected] to learn more and help develop the program.

Cover image: Distributed energy resources such as solar power combined with batteries bring unique benefits to the global energy landscape that power plants and long-distance transmission and distribution alone could not. Image: Brooklyn Microgrid via Facebook.

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