“Good” inverters are going to play a serious function in how utilities handle rooftop photo voltaic’s impact on the perimeters of their grids. They may be a key interconnection level for behind-the-meter batteries, good thermostats and home equipment, plug-in electrical automobiles, and different distributed vitality sources.
On Tuesday, dwelling vitality administration supplier EnergyHub and inverter maker SMA introduced a brand new step in making this sort of cross-DER aggregation a actuality. It should begin with an Arizona Public Service pilot venture, geared toward taking the utility’s groundbreaking good inverter work right into a broader context. Within the coming months, EnergyHub is poised to ship the identical performance to its greater than 40 utility prospects, in response to Tuesday’s press launch.
The APS pilot will faucet SMA good inverters at industrial and multifamily housing photo voltaic PV methods, and mix them with a rising fleet of properties and companies outfitted with rooftop photo voltaic, good thermostats, good water heaters and behind-the-meter batteries. EnergyHub and APS will then function these methods in live performance, to assist shift the state’s surplus of photo voltaic vitality into later within the day, stabilize solar-saturated distribution circuits, and in any other case flip what might be a disruptive set of distributed vitality sources (DERs) right into a grid-reinforcing asset.
Key markets like Hawaii and California already require that inverters include key ‘superior’ capabilities, starting from grid-stabilizing automated options to, ultimately, extra advanced, aggregated controls. However utilities and photo voltaic inverter makers haven’t actually began turning on these capabilities, past pilot initiatives.
However APS is forward of different U.S. utilities in its good inverter work, helped alongside by state rules that enable it to personal the photo voltaic, inverter and different property associates with this and different choose DER pilots. Actually, its work with the Electrical Energy Analysis Institute (EPRI) has knowledgeable utility good inverter pilots throughout the nation.
Likewise, APS’s work with EnergyHub is among the first to incorporate good inverters with different DERs, Matthew Johnson, Power Hub’s vp of enterprise improvement, famous in a Tuesday interview. That’s essential, as a result of whereas good inverters are an essential linchpin in utility-to-DER communications and controls, they’re just one instrument in a broader toolkit that it’s working with to satisfy APS’s broader targets.
The large-picture downside for APS is its oversupply of photo voltaic technology at noon, which matches the “duck curve” supply-demand imbalance of neighboring California’s vitality market, he famous. “They’re very curious about the way to curtail photo voltaic output and match load to photo voltaic output,” largely through the use of batteries, water heaters, and thermostat settings to ‘take in’ extra noon photo voltaic technology to make use of later within the day, when photo voltaic manufacturing is fading and buyer electrical energy demand is rising. Final yr, APS launched new charges which might be among the many first within the nation aimed particularly at encouraging individuals to make use of extra vitality at sure instances of the day on this manner.
Standardizing the DERMS-smart inverter interface
Whereas these DERs supply vitality storage and load-shifting functionality, nonetheless, it’s the good inverters that function their interconnection to the grid at giant, he mentioned. What’s extra, inverters can alter their operations to inject reactive energy to spice up voltage, ramp output up and down extra easily to ease sags and surges in native PV output, and in any other case function shock absorbers for the solar energy they’re feeding to the grid, he mentioned.
These capabilities may be very useful in fixing the native distribution circuit issues that may come up with heavy penetration of distributed photo voltaic, as initiatives in Hawaii, California and different vanguard markets have proven. However “to take inverters shipped with customary settings, and dynamically attain in there and reply to particular grid situations – we’re pretty assured that it is a distinctive venture,” he mentioned.
It’s additionally a uncommon occasion of a DERMS platform that has operationalized good inverter capabilities utilizing standards-based applied sciences, he famous. Its implementation with APS will use the IEEE 2030.5 customary for vitality knowledge communications, also referred to as Good Power Profile 2.zero (SEP 2.zero). And the EnergyHub-SMA integration is compliant with California’s Rule 21, which governs DER interconnection within the state, and the Widespread Good Inverter Profile (CSIP), developed by trade group SunSpec Alliance.
Brooklyn, N.Y.-based EnergyHub, which was acquired by Alarm.com in 2013, has about 40 utilities utilizing its Mercury DERMS platform, most of them in full-scale deployments, CEO Seth Frader-Thompson mentioned in an interview final yr. Whereas its good inverter work with APS is basically geared toward data-gathering and evaluation, it’s additionally supporting the form of distant reconfiguration that has been customary for photo voltaic inverters since early this decade, after Germany’s photo voltaic trade was compelled to spend a whole lot of thousands and thousands of euros to retrofit inverters to make sure they didn’t all journey offline without delay throughout voltage excursions.
And as Johnson famous this week, whereas EnergyHub is working with utility-owned property within the APS pilot, “there’s no motive for different deployments to not management customer-owned property,” so long as the shoppers and photo voltaic or inverter distributors concerned are signed on.
SMA, for one, has already built-in its cloud platform for managing its inverter fleet with EnergyHub’s Mercury DERMS system, he famous, making integrating present or new SMA inverters appropriate with the identical stage of monitoring and controls it’s engaged on with APS – no less than for inverters made previously few years.