As distributed energy resources proliferate across the grid, the best way to integrate them may not be from the top down but rather from the bottom up. This isn’t a new idea.
The centralized control systems used by utilities to dispatch power plants and operate grid gear aren’t designed to monitor and manage hundreds of thousands or millions of DERs at the edges of their distribution grids. Given the highly unpredictable nature of customer-owned DERs, the math equations involved can overwhelm a supercomputer.
But there are ways to optimize DERs across buildings, campuses and neighborhoods and get them to work together, whether simply to minimize their destabilizing effects or to yield benefits that could add up to more than the sum of their individual parts.