The Electric Power Research Institute has released a framework that all stakeholders in the electricity sector can use to assess benefits and costs of technologies and systems related to the integration of distributed energy resources (DER), such as solar, wind and microgrids, into the planning and operations of the electric system. EPRI also identified a series of pilot projects in which the framework can be applied, potentially providing the electricity sector with technical and financial insights and a roadmap to support the deployment of what EPRI calls "The Integrated Grid," or one that makes best and fullest use of both central and distributed energy resources.
The report, "The Integrated Grid: A Benefit-Cost Framework," unveiled in Washington, D.C., at the General Meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, provides a framework for assessing the benefits and costs of technologies that will enable the grid to accommodate more DER and bolster its reliability and resiliency. It includes guidelines, analytical tools and procedures for demonstrating technologies and assessing their unique benefits and costs.
The framework will help ensure consistency in comparing various technology options for integrating DER with the grid and will support policy and regulatory discussions that enable integrated grid solutions.
The proposed pilot projects will provide a better understanding of the operational values, performance issues and economic benefits of grid integrated DER deployment. Project results and associated modeling and analysis will guide stakeholders implementing integrated grid technologies in the most cost-effective manner.
Pilot projects will target an array of DER configurations:
- Utility scale solar projects will assess the benefit-cost for an integrated approach to deploy photovoltaics (PV) into the grid.
- Utility scale solar with energy storage projects will evaluate the integration, benefits and costs of utility scale solar with energy storage.
- Distributed energy storage projects will a assess options to integrate distributed energy storage & evaluating the associated benefits & costs.
- Microgrid projects will explore a variety of technology options to integrate with the grid along with resultant benefits & costs.
- Electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure projects will investigate the integration, benefits and costs of EV charging infrastructure.
- Customer-side technologies projects will assess approaches for integrating customer side technologies with grid operations and planning including benefits & costs for such an integration.
The EPRI framework enables users to evaluate the benefit-cost of various technology options for integrating DER with the electricity grid. "EPRI is working to develop a common tool set to inform operations, planning, policy, standards and interconnection rules," said Dr. Mike Howard, president and CEO of EPRI. "By applying insights from science, engineering and economics, we can take the grid from one of interconnected parts to one that fully and optimally integrates distributed and central energy resources. Ultimately, this will enable us to realize a new level of safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible electricity."
EPRI introduced the Integrated Grid concept at the 2014 NARUC General Meeting in Washington DC. That concept laid out a roadmap for electricity industry stakeholders to collaborate on polices, processes and technologies – setting a course toward a grid that is greater than the sum of its parts.