The Infosys Utilities Blog seeks to discuss and answer the industry’s burning Smart Grid questions through the commentary of the industry’s leading Smart Grid and Sustainability experts. This blogging community offers a rich source of fresh new ideas on the planning, design and implementation of solutions for the utility industry of tomorrow.

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Behind-The-Meter : Manage Demand to Match Supply

In today's blog I would like to share how efficiently demand can be managed to match the supply. Utilities rely on coal, gas, nuclear, renewable (wind & solar) sources for generating electricity supply and meet the demand. This brought in the centralized operating model for maintaining the load generation balance. The central generating stations dispatch the supply economically to meet the needs of variable demand and this supply dispatch remains the predominant method since decades for load-generation balance.  The electrical network consists of several control areas which are integrated and monitored at tie lines level for exchange of supply and meet the demand effectively.

New challenges are forcing the new approaches to maintain load-generation (Demand-Supply) balance and much more efforts are emphatically in distribution system to do this. The two way communication and contribution between the utilities and consumer end is throwing lot of ideas and opportunities to realize this. Demand dispatch approach is one of the concepts which leverage the use of demand resources that are behind-the-meter. The customer owned behind-the-meter loads, generation and storage resources can operate collectively to meet the needs of supply-demand optimally in near real time. In an integrated operating model, monitoring & control applications in demand dispatch system can monitors the conditions behind-the-meter and sends the dispatch instructions to the controllable devices/resources to increase or decrease load by reducing load, increasing load, increasing behind-the-meter generation or decreasing behind-the meter generation. This is similar to the monitoring of ACE (Area control error) and adjusting the generation in a traditional power system to meet the demand. The difference is only that the impact of demand dispatch is mostly localized and limited behind-the-meter area. It can be visualize as control areas with virtual power plants connected and monitored at feeder levels to dispatch the instructions or commands to match the supply in a distribution system.

Following needs shall be realized for a demand dispatch:

1.       Customer connected securely with a high speed two-way communications to AMI system.

2.       Centralized control center that monitors and controls behind-the-meter resources.

3.       Integrated mode of operation of Demand response, rewarding tariff models and other smart grid applications with demand dispatch applications.

4.       Open regulatory policies to enable customer participation in electricity wholesale operations.

This is one of the economical, clean and optimal ways of demand management and grid optimization. It not only addresses the local reliability issues but also reduces the operational risk when peak demand challenges the fixed generation capabilities. This concept needs more research and feasibility analysis to be performed at each granular level of an entire distribution system before they are implemented.

In my next blog I will share the more on supply & demand dispatch and challenges seen in realization.   -    Keep visiting this space.

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