Dealing With Renewables Integration

Power companies are struggling to maintain reliability while integrating new sources of generation
Published: Mon 14 Apr 2014

The integration of renewables is a major challenge for utilities. Power companies are struggling to maintain reliability while integrating new sources of generation using traditional network reinforcement and reliability schemes.

Germany has been grappling with renewables integration on a large scale, thanks to their ambitious Energiewende program which supports the development of renewables and aims to reduce carbon emissions. Our article Germany’s Energiewende is destabilizing the grid, discusses how the country has had to re-introduce coal in order to attain a more reliable flow of power from the national grid.

A smart partnership

In response to this growing challenge, Silver Spring Networks, a leading networking platform and solutions provider for smart energy networks, recently announced a teaming agreement with Smarter Grid Solutions, a leading European vendor of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) integration solutions.

Customers can now look forward to leveraging a solution which integrates Smarter Grid Solutions’ autonomous grid management technology with Silver Spring Network’s IPv6 smart grid networking platform. Together, this enables electrical grid operators to proactively manage renewable energy sources and grid devices.

The innovative approach provides effective monitoring and management of grid constraints and enhances the overall reliability and efficiency of the grid.

The joint solution builds on Silver Spring Networks and Smarter Grid Solutions’ existing engagement at the successful Flexible Plug and Play project which is being used by UK Power Networks, the distribution network operator for London, and the South East and the East of England.

In the Flexible Plug and Play (FPP) project, Silver Spring Network’s networking technology connects an array of distribution equipment across a deployment of wind and solar resources in Cambridgeshire, UK. This deployment also successfully demonstrated the use of the IEC 61850 protocol across a radio mesh field area network.

Long-term grid reliability and cost savings

At the core of the FPP project, Smarter Grid Solutions’ Active Network Management technology monitors the electricity grid using data provided by Silver Spring Network’s field area network. The system autonomously calculates the available capacity of the grid and issues real-time control instructions to participating Distributed Energy Resources. The project has delivered significant savings to UK Power Networks on the capital expenditures otherwise required to reinforce the project area.

Says Gerry Docherty, Chief Executive, Smarter Grid Solutions “In the course of delivering several successful projects, we have found that many utilities were making long-term grid reliability decisions without fully integrating their strategy for the underlying communications fabric.” He goes on to say that in order to run the next generation of distributed, intelligent applications, power companies need a reliable, responsive communications infrastructure that doesn't risk the fundamental utility business case.”

Says Eric Dresselhuys, Executive Vice President of Global Development, Silver Spring Networks. “By offering this proven solution to our customers, Silver Spring Networks and Smarter Grid Solutions are enabling utilities, and ultimately the end consumer, to save money and enjoy the benefits of a cleaner, more reliable and more efficient energy grid.”