A free paper discussing how distributed energy resources (DER), such as rooftop solar panels and high-tech microgrids, could be integrated into electric power systems so customers can enjoy the benefit of both a central power system and distributed technologies in the most cost-effective way is available from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

“The grid is expected to change in different, perhaps fundamental, ways, requiring careful assessment of the costs and opportunities of different technological and policy pathways to fully integrate DER into the electric power system,” Michael W. Howard, PhD, PE, president and chief executive officer of EPRI, said. “If we are going to realize the full value of these resources, while at the same time continue to provide affordable and reliable electricity, we need to integrate them into every aspect of grid planning, operations, and policy.”

Howard continued: “These systems can be complementary and not competitive, if we acknowledge that both systems benefit the customers and integrating them will enhance the benefit to all customers, while failure to integrate fully could lead to higher costs and lower reliability.”

The first in a series of integrated-grid studies from EPRI, “The Integrated Grid: Realizing the Full Value of Central and Distributed Energy Resources” outlines an action plan for all stakeholders, with examples to support fact-based discussions. The study leverages EPRI research, as well as lessons learned from Germany’s extensive deployment of distributed solar photovoltaics and wind.

The paper describes a critical need for collaborative solutions, including:

  • The updating of interconnection rules and communication standards.
  • Deployment of advanced distribution and reliability technologies.
  • Integration of DER into grid planning and operation.
  • Informing policy and regulation to enable transformation to an integrated grid.

EPRI anticipates that with full integration, DER can contribute more effectively to system capacity, flexibility, and efficiency, as well as environmental attributes.

During a meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in February, EPRI unveiled an initiative to provide knowledge, information, and tools needed to develop an integrated grid:

  • Phase 1: Publish a concept paper discussing the main issues while providing real examples to support open, fact-based discussion.
  • Phase 2: Develop a framework of analytical tools and procedures that can lead to the effective integration of distributed and central resources.
  • Phase 3: Through global demonstrations and modeling using analytics and procedures developed in Phase 2, provide data and information stakeholders will need for cost-effective, systemwide implementation of integrated-grid technologies.

“The Integrated Grid: Realizing the Full Value of Central and Distributed Resources” can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/integrated_grid. For more information about the integrated grid, go to www.epri.com/integratedgrid.