Nothing will stand out in 2018 as more important for the long-term success of renewables than the advancement of a digital grid architecture.
Visibility at the grid edge; integration of sensors and data analytics for distributed generation; smart contracts for energy management; flexible demand; intelligent control systems — these are the buzzy technologies of today that will become standard operations for utilities, system operators, and power producers to maximize the global renewable energy fleet. Simultaneously, we get clearer understanding, how the two-way system operation can be implemetnted for providing the success.
For example, we saw smart inverters made requisite in certain regions. Unlike their predecessors, smart inverters for solar or storage can ride out frequency or voltage events on the grid, giving utilities a hand in keeping the grid stable. Next year, watch for more policy makers to pave the way for utilities to use smart inverters for grid stability, and regulators to work with entities that can create new communications standards to talk to the grid.
Smart grids that allow to control in real time energy producing by all the sources get more widespread. The create a single huge network by connecting big plants between each other and with local generation spots (solar or wind, for instance). Such a network provides real-time data on renewables productivity, allows to estimate efficiency and to control distribution.
And in Scotland, a recent trial showed the success of what’s called “active network management” — an integrated system of demand-side management, large-scale energy storage and monitoring and control through software. Watch for the results of that demonstration project to be extrapolated for use on the greater U.K. grid.
Smart inverters, smart controls, smart networks — it’s all about digital smarts, and expect more to come next year. It’s crucial to understand that for fulfillment of customers’ needs not only amount of produced energy, but also its smart distribution matters. Smart technologies keep continuously proving it. And that’s what lets us hope that approach to estimation of renewables efficiency will be revised.
Happy New Year!