Distribution utilities must embrace new technologies and innovative approaches to cut the costs of integrating renewable energy generators, electric vehicles and other distributed energy resources (DER) into their grids, according to a white paper by Smarter Grid Solutions.

As distribution network operators (DNO) are becoming distribution system operators (DSOs), the report suggests that utility companies should make use of distributed energy resource management systems (DERMS) immediately to save money and meet decarbonisation targets.

Smarter Grid Solutions’ analysts suggest that the policies and practices used by the transmission system operators (TSOs) to manage networks cannot just be copied across to the distribution grid.

In its white paper, the Glasgow-based software company also highlighted the need for implementation of DERMS that will help manage increasingly complex systems.

Smarter Grid Solutions chief technology officer and the author of the white paper Bob Currie said: “The number of electric vehicles, solar panels, batteries and other DER being connected to the grid is going to rocket from tens of thousands at present to millions within the next decade, so now is the right time to invest in the right systems.

“The number of electric vehicles, solar panels, batteries and other DER being connected to the grid is going to rocket from tens of thousands to millions within the next decade.”

“Utility companies need to implement DERMS because distribution networks aren’t the same as transmission networks. They’re more complex, they have less real-time monitoring and they have different challenges in different locations due to the clustering of DER.”

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Currently, the company is working with four of the six UK distribution utilities and has linked over 350MW of generation capacity to distribution grids. This has saved its clients more than £175m.

Currie added: “It’s interesting to draw comparisons between Great Britain and other markets that are developing smart grids, such as Germany and the United States.

“Germany has been actively managing its grid since 2009, with renewable generators receiving curtailment compensation up to 3% a year, increasing significantly the amount of renewable generators that can connect to the existing distribution system and reducing the overall cost to customers.”

Established in 2008, Smarter Grid Solutions offers (DERMS) software and provides solutions to the distribution utilities, distribution network operators and distributed energy resource providers.