Distributed Generation Challenges

The biggest challenge for integration of distributed generation is the development of a communication infrastructure.
Published: Tue 02 Dec 2014

Managing the distribution grid with distributed generation is a challenge waiting to be solved, says Jochen Kreusel, Head of Smart Grids Initiative at ABB, speaking to Engerati at European Utility Week 2014.

With two orders of magnitude more components, substations, nodes than at transmission level, it is a different world. The technologies are being rolled out, but essentially to solve the issues, and the provision of new services is in its infancy.

“Most of the DG so far has been installed by private investors, very often subsidised, and we will need to find more sustainable business cases depending less on subsidies.”

Virtual power plants

In some countries aggregators are entering the market, primarily focused on peak load reduction and they could also offer supply and demand matching, says Kreusel.

Virtual power plants (VPPs) are also evolving. However, VPPs are focused on mid-size DG and most PV generation is still excluded. With PV growing, a challenge both at the technological and regulatory levels is how to integrate these smaller resources efficiently.

Communication infrastructure

But the biggest and most important challenge, according to Kreusel, is the underlying communication infrastructure that will allow players to easily connect DG resources and to build the services with them.

Drawing a parallel with the internet, Kreusel says that business models have evolved around the proliferation of smart devices. “The communication infrastructure was there first and the products and services are evolving around it. We’re talking about a similar challenge in really integrating DG, down to the smallest resources.”