A new digital solution for distributed energy resources was unveiled today at DistribuTECH in New Orleans.
Developed in a collaboration between Bentley Systems and Siemens Digital Grid business, it is designed to help utilities unlock previously untapped efficiencies in distributed generation, particularly with regard to accommodating an increasing amount of renewables into the grid.
“These new applications will help utility owners and operators share critical information to realize the potential of their network models for continuous benefit throughout the day-to-day running of their organizations,” said Vonnie Smith, vice-president of energy infrastructure at Bentley Systems.
And Michael Schneider, general manager and global head of Siemens Power Technologies International, explained that “electric utilities today have a growing need for planning and analysis solutions that tackle the fluctuations of decentralized renewable generation. That means good forecasting, state-of-the-art models and the ability to study many scenarios per year.
“Enabling these outcomes requires a highly dynamic mode of analysis where network models are continuously up-to-date. It also helps utilities and industrial owner-operators address the challenges of planning, designing and operating networks with integrated DER in a highly efficient manner.”
Called OpenUtilities DER Planning & Design Assessment Solutions, the solution offers utilities, electricity suppliers and distribution network operators with software applications to analyze, design, and evaluate DER interconnection requests through desktop and cloud-based services, while supporting the reliability and resilience of network operations.
The solutions generate a digital twin for utilities – a twin that is designed to enable owners and operators to more efficiently model the grid for decentralized energy without compromising safety and reliability. It is designed to operate across any form of distributed generation, including helping to smooth the demands on the grid from electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Siemens and Bentley set out to resolve several challenges of DER integration, such as system complexity, increased regulatory requirements, high customer demand, and cost management.
They believe that digital twins “can provide huge efficiencies in grid operations by streamlining DER interconnection applications with optimized workflows to better assess operational impacts, long-term strategic scenarios and investment decisions”.
The companies said today that OpenUtilities Analysis “gives power system engineers a mechanism to reduce the amount of manual work required at each step of an impact analysis study. This means accurate forecasting, state-of-the-art models and the ability to efficiently study many power flow scenarios within the network. It enables power system planners to better forecast and model the grid for decentralized energy without disrupting current operations.”
Vonnie Smith said today that utilities were at last looking at digital solutions not as an additional cost, but as an asset. She said: “These kinds of problems demand a level and a currency of information that, firstly, has not been needed before, and secondly, certainly has not been available before.
“As utilities begin to understand what is required to solve these problems, they realize the value of digitalization.”