Distributed energy resources (DERs) are diverse in type, manufactured by multitudes of vendors, and offer up compelling synergies if they can be aggregated and optimized with artificial intelligence and state-of-the-art digital software platforms. Sound easy? It’s not, and that’s why AutoGrid has always approached the market for creative DER configurations such as virtual power plants (VPPs) by pushing for open standards to address what can be an interoperability nightmare for utilities and prosumers.
To further support this vital effort, I’ve agreed to represent AutoGrid, as a board member for the SunSpec Alliance, perhaps the most pivotal organization in the push for open standards in the expanding DER landscape.
Diverse but Compatible
As prosumers take center stage in the energy transition, the complexity of balancing power grids increases, yet the benefits come in many forms: lower costs across the stakeholder landscape, lower emissions and greater economic opportunities for formerly passive energy consumers. VPPs allow DER asset owners, whether they have rooftop solar PV, an electric vehicle and/or a smart thermostat, to capture economic benefits while also solving power grid management challenges. See this vodcast for more details about what prosumers are capable of with the right set of tools and markets.
Perhaps the most significant challenge is the slower adoption of open protocol standards in today’s increasingly crowded DER management space. Whether integrating DERs with a VPP program or maintaining the physical integrity of distribution networks through a distributed energy resource management system (DERMS), the more open the system, the more flexibility that can be marshaled to provide shared value.
Open and Secure
My new board seat is a significant milestone for both AutoGrid and the SunSpec Alliance. Why? The SunSpec Alliance is a consortium of companies that work together to develop open standards for the solar and energy storage industries. The alliance aims to create a unified communication platform for DERs not only to enable interoperability, but also cyber security protection and increased reliability and resilience across the industry ecosystem. With AutoGrid’s membership and my board role in the SunSpec Alliance, all of us at AutoGrid, along with other industry participants, can work toward creating the kind of open, transparent and flexible solution ecosystem that the world needs to combat the climate crisis.
I am passionate about this topic. While it does not get significant attention, the issue of open protocols is vital to scaling up both VPPs and DERMS solutions for grid management. Similar open source approaches allowed the telecommunications industry to evolve and deliver better products and services. Closed, proprietary systems may offer a company short-term gains, but in the end, customers want choice – and the energy industry should give it to them. Open Standards also were the key reason for mobile and computing industries to thrive in an extremely competitive landscape- Think about standards such WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC and even USB. At AutoGrid we envision a similar future for the smart grid industry.
Today and Tomorrow
Today, AutoGrid leverages cutting-edge standards to increase the number of types of DERs – and OEMs – that are available globally and ready to be rolled into VPPs. AutoGrid’s cloud-native architecture allows for rapid deployment and auto-scaling as the number of DER endpoints increases exponentially. This cloud-native approach dovetails with open standards, an enlightened pathway forward for utilities and grid operators worldwide.
Since its inception, AutoGrid has pioneered open standard adoption and established a track record of supporting standards such as OpenADR, Modbus, DNP3, and other SCADA protocols, in addition to a number of proprietary OEM API integrations. We will be expanding our reach to even more DERs with the IEEE 2030.5, which is primarily used to aggregate and manage smart inverters that are a key enabling technology for clean DERs such as solar, storage and V2G Chargers. Adding IEEE 2030.5 head-end capability to our platform makes it even more versatile and powerful. Combined with AutoGrid’s artificial intelligence (AI) optimization algorithms, utilities and grid operators can optimize their DERs, reduce costs, and improve reliability, all while staying compliant with the latest industry standards.
This appointment to the SunSpec board is a significant endorsement of AutoGrid’s commitment to driving innovation in the energy industry. By joining the SunSpec Alliance board, I hope to shape the future of the solar and energy storage industries and ensure that AutoGrid’s products – and those of our partners – remain at the forefront of the industry.