Sun. Aug 25th, 2019

DistribuTech Highlight: Hawaii’s Interoperable Grid Communications and Subsequent-Gen Grid Planning

Distributed vitality integration is the watchword for this yr’s DistribuTech convention in New Orleans, even when the variety of utilities diving headlong into DERs as an integral a part of their energy grid are comparatively few, and the transfer is principally pushed by necessity. 

Take Hawaiian Electrical, the utility serving the nation’s most solar-saturated energy grids, every actually islanded from the opposite, and heading towards the state’s 100 % by 2045 clear vitality mandate. The utility is grappling with the mixing of distributed PV, large-scale photo voltaic and wind, in-front-of and behind-the-meter batteries, electrical autos, and different probably disruptive applied sciences — and higher methods to handle all of them. 

At this week’s DistribuTech, HECO introduced its accomplice for this next-generation set of good grid communications capabilities: Landis+Gyr. The Swiss metering large will “present connectivity to taking part buyer accounts, in addition to provide grid and distributed vitality useful resource administration capabilities,” as a part of the five-year, $86.three million Part 1 of HECO’s grid modernization plan, which is now awaiting approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Fee. 

HECO’s grid modernization plan — its roadmap for the expertise it must deploy to assist this panoply of DERs — has gone by way of some modifications because it was first launched in 2016. In early 2017, the Hawaii PUC rejected its first plan, which referred to as for $340 million in spending and included good meters deployed throughout its service territory. HECO returned with a leaner $205 million plan, accepted by the fee final yr, that referred to as for good meters to be deployed extra “strategically,” to clients with personal rooftop photo voltaic on saturated circuits, or those that wish to take part in demand response or variable fee packages. 

Part 1 requires superior good meters able to supporting the extra complicated information assortment and communications wants of HECO’s Good Export, Managed Buyer Grid Provide Plus, and Demand Response packages, together with a meter information administration system that may carry out analytics on each “scheduled and an on-demand foundation” and assist a buyer portal for vitality information entry. 

It additionally requires an “interoperable, scalable telecommunications community, which permits the communication path for each superior meters and discipline units for distribution sensing, management and automation.” These capabilities match properly with HECO’s want for sensors and management techniques on its most solar-saturated distribution circuits, which might expertise prolonged intervals of reverse energy flows as PV-generated energy exceeds demand — a situation most grids weren’t designed to deal with. 

A unique type of AMI

It is a very totally different type of superior metering infrastructure (AMI) deployment than the mass-market, mesh-networked techniques deployed in California, Texas and different early markets within the late 2000s.

Over the previous decade, Landis+Gyr and its chief AMI competitor, the mixed Itron-Silver Spring Networks, have each made main advances in embedding distributed intelligence and multi-modal communications capabilities of their units. It is a part of an effort to increase past utilities into streetlights, site visitors sensors and different internet-of-things functions.

HECO may also depend on this communications community to tackle the novel job of truly controlling some behind-the-meter property instantly. Beneath its Managed Buyer Grid Provide Plus tariff, for instance, clients should have an “acceptable telemetry interface” to permit for communication between the PV system and the utility-supplied meter, to permit the utility to curtail photo voltaic feeding onto the grid when circumstances require it. Landis+Gyr’s platform, like Itron’s, can handle mobile connections for these units in the event that they’re separated from its mesh networks, utilizing a single unified community administration platform. 

HECO’s settlement with Landis+Gyr can be noteworthy for being among the many first to have the ability to declare it’s constructed on Wi-SUN Alliance-certified gear. Whereas Landis+Gyr and Itron are opponents, they’ve additionally been working collectively for years — largely pushed by large utility buyer Tepco — on an open specification for his or her IEEE 802.15.4g discipline space mesh networks, dubbed Wi-SUN.

After years of wrangling, the alliance launched its first Wi-SUN FAN Certification Program in October, laying the groundwork for Monday’s announcement of its first wave of members to finish interoperability testing: Cisco, Itron, Nissin Programs, Kyoto College, Landis+Gyr, Renesas and Rohm. 

GTM has coated HECO’s work with photo voltaic installers, good inverter makers, vitality storage suppliers and distribution grid energy electronics suppliers to handle its rising share of renewable, intermittent vitality. All of those techniques would require utility monitoring on the very least, and probably a way more fine-grained stage of management than utilities have ever undertaken on the edges of their distribution grids. 

“We needed a versatile communications element that would assist our present and future wants for superior metering, distribution automation and distributed vitality useful resource integration, whereas with the ability to assist a number of distributors and protocols,” Ron Cox, HECO’s senior vp of operations, mentioned in an announcement. 

From real-time communications to built-in distribution planning 

Granular, real-time orchestration of DERs to handle the distribution grid requires greater than the units and communications networks to allow that management. It additionally requires a way more high-fidelity understanding of the distribution community itself, each when it comes to real-time operations, and in planning how the grid ought to be designed for a way more DER-integrated future. 

Integrating DERs into distribution grid planning is a problem for utilities, given the relative lack of readability on their low-voltage techniques. Utilities usually have to scrub up many years of knowledge on repairs, enhancements and alterations on their low-voltage techniques earlier than they will even start the type of energy movement modeling required to allow essentially the most subtle grid edge controls. 

Through the years, we’ve been monitoring a handful of startups with expertise to make sense of this chaotic and largely darkish portion of the utility electrical energy distribution community. Considered one of them is Opus One Options, an Ontario, Canada-based startup that’s been offering real-time, two-way energy movement modeling of distribution circuits for tasks together with Nationwide Grid’s distributed system platform pilot in Buffalo, N.Y., and transactive microgrids in Ontario and Maine. 

At DistribuTech this week, Opus One revealed that it’s been working with HECO on a brand new utility of its grid analytics — modeling the grid of the longer term. That’s the aim of its GridOS Built-in Distribution Planning (IDP) product, a web-hosted, automated grid planning software program suite that targets the complete ecosystem round distribution planning from utilities to consulting companies, system integrators and product companions, “making certain cost-effective and dependable service to clients by way of superior software program functions.”

Wednesday’s business launch announcement highlighted the work Opus One has completed with HECO to develop the IDP product. “With our enterprise, automated, and scalable web-based IDP answer, HECO was in a position to consider grid internet hosting capability, energy high quality and funding choices from operational planning to long run planning,” Opus One CEO Joshua Wong wrote in a Wednesday weblog publish. 

HECO’s island-by-island grids face a variety of distribution grid planning challenges that almost all utilities don’t face. In 2017, HECO proposed an Built-in Grid Planning course of to tackle this problem, extending the normal utility built-in useful resource plan, which examines long-range wants for technology and transmission property, right into a view of the “wants in any respect ranges of the system: buyer, bulk energy assets, transmission, and distribution.” 

At GTM’s Grid Edge World Discussion board convention in 2017, Wong hinted at this week’s HECO partnership reveal, telling us that the corporate had landed a “giant U.S. investor-owned utility” to check out its distribution planning platform. Opus One’s expertise for operational perception may also assist utilities within the planning sphere with “how they may use DERs for non-wires alternate options, how they may defer infrastructure expense by doing DER placement in strategic areas of their grid, and serving to them to develop packages to advertise DER development the place it helps the grid in addition to clients,” Wong mentioned. 

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