The core value of this project is to provide the technical support and analysis needed for the state of Vermont and its electric utilities to meet the state's ambitious goal of obtaining 90% of its energy from renewable sources by 2050. Significant changes in Vermont's distribution-system architecture and operations are needed to mitigate the impacts of high penetrations of variable and distributed energy resources (DER) such as voltage violations, equipment failures, thermal overloads, and safety & reliability issues. A secondary—but no less significant value—is to develop an optimal and integrated approach to enable the high-penetration of renewables at the distribution level that can serve as template for other utilities—both investor-owned and rural cooperatives—across the US.
This project's key outcome will be 1) a replicable approach for leveraging energy storage (ES) technologies to address these disruptive impacts and allow for high penetration of renewable energy generation, and 2) to develop a technical approach for resilient distribution feeders with high percentages of low-carbon distributed energy resources. The unique aspects of this project are threefold:
1. ES Optimization. Deployed with the proper controls and incentives, both utility-owned and distributed, ES can be a significant driver of both residential- and utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) growth, helping shave peak loads, mitigate the impacts of variable generation on the grid, and increasing customer confidence in their power supply. This project will include an analysis of ES as an enabler and driver of high-penetration renewable generation. Working with industry partners, the team will develop a set of advanced controls for aggregating and optimizing ES; demonstrate optimal ES system siting and sizing which will help drive deployment and more effective state-level policy.
2. Broadly Adoptable Approach to DER Optimization. This research effort, in collaboration with Vermont stakeholders and national innovators, will develop, test, and deploy a holistic technical approach to DER integration and control. Our approach will address multiple challenges simultaneously, including the negative impacts on grid performance and load management created by high-penetration DER; we anticipate that our work will result in a solution that includes the optimal siting of DER on a utility's network. While the project focuses on Vermont and its unique distribution topologies, drawing on Vermont utility supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) data, the research results will be broadly applicable.
3. Support for Vermont, at the Vanguard of Grid Modernization. In many ways, Vermont leads the nation's grid modernization efforts: it is the first state to have a statewide AMI, a high-percentage of substations (~ 95 %) with SCADA upgrades, and a unanimous commitment (by utilities, the state, and public) to a renewables-intensive future. This project, which involves the national labs working in partnership with state and local organizations (industry, academia, utilities, state regulators, etc.) will directly support Vermont's efforts to shift to a non-carbon-based energy economy.