DERs—such as residential photovoltaic (PV) systems, battery storage, and electric vehicles—have seen significant growth in recent years. When aggregated and coordinated, DERs may provide the distribution grid with ancillary and other services.
If emerging U.S. utility-led DER aggregation projects prove successful, new value streams could open for PV and other developing DERs, expanding the market for DERs.
A new NREL report surveys existing DER aggregation projects across the U.S. and presents case studies of five, unique, utility-led initiatives. The report compares lessons learned and identifies common challenges and solutions that other utilities might consider when developing next-generation pilots and programs.
Each of the five projects featured in the NREL report demonstrates that DER aggregation can provide grid benefits, including frequency response, load shifting, and voltage regulation. Although project designs varied, the report identifies five categories of common challenges and areas of consideration for future aggregation programs: distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) development and implementation, customer acquisition, DER deployment, communications with DERs, and DER performance.
To complement this analysis, NREL completed an in-depth case study of Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) successful technology demonstration of a DERMS to aggregate and coordinate DERs. PG&E hosts more distributed PV systems than any other U.S. utility and, by 2030, it expects to host hundreds of thousands of new DERs.
PG&E recently deployed a DERMS developed by partner technology vendor for managing PV and residential storage at 27 homes, commercial storage at three locations, and a PG&E-owned, utility-scale battery. The demonstration produced positive results across seven use cases while highlighting challenges and areas for improvement, which are addressed in the case study.