The Need for an Intelligent Grid Management System of Systems – Part 1

The Need for an Intelligent Grid Management System of Systems – Part 1

With the widespread adoption of distributed energy resources (DERs), the modern grid is becoming an increasingly complex network of interconnected systems.

To stay up to date in such an environment, utilities have to connect their grids to an unprecedented number of distributed resources, systems, sensors and control points. Furthermore, the increasing use of DERs, such as solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage, have introduced new operational challenges related to managing multi-directional energy flows and handling volatile shifts in supply and demand.

Utilities' legacy grid management systems (e.g., DA, DMS) were not built to handle these challenging requirements. In particular, the emergence of multiple new solutions, such as distributed storage, distributed solar, electrical vehicles and distributed wind, represents a major challenge. Each system has its own dedicated management application, and in many cases these applications are not connected to the existing control room management applications (for example, the DMS is not connected to the asset management systems).

To optimize grid operations, these systems also need to integrate with advanced load and forecasting engines to overcome expected and unexpected constraints. In addition, grid management systems need to integrate with both new and legacy hardware and IT applications.

The Implementation Challenge

To address these new realities, utilities realize the need for an integrated and smart solution to manage DERs. Two options exist - the most appropriate option for most utilities is to implement a DER Management System (DERMS). The second option, for the small percentage of utilities that have an ADMS, is to develop a new add-on module for managing DERs.

Utilities' biggest concern with respect to DERMS implementations is that in some cases they will have to upgrade their existing systems. SCADA system upgrades, in particular, are extremely expensive and time-consuming, and utilities prefer to avoid them wherever possible. Another worry stems from the typically very long duration of major software projects in utility environments, which increases the risk that operations will be compromised or requirements will change during the project's lifetime. Some projects may require replacement of existing systems, which introduces additional risk.

Adaptability is also a key challenge, as utilities must be prepared to address market dynamics and leverage new technologies as they become available. Solution flexibility is a "must" for accommodating new types of DERs, introducing business rules, and supporting innovative business models.

Take Your Grid to the Next Level with a System of Systems Approach

In the second part of this series, we will present the fundamentals of a System of Systems (SoS) approach for grid modernization projects and describe how this holistic approach can help utilities avoid the costs and risks mentioned above.

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