• Effectively managing growing distributed energy resources (DERs) is at the heart of successfully navigating the energy transition and supporting decarbonisation.
  • Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems (DERMSs) not only manage and optimise DERs performance, but also help utilities ensure resilience in an ever-changing energy landscape.
  • Investing in DERMS helps utilities reduce cost and add value to their grid modernisation efforts, while building and preparing for a decarbonised future.

As the race to net-zero accelerates, utilities face unprecedented transformational change. The rapid adoption of distributed energy resources (DERs), evolving regulatory mandates and growing expectations from customers participating in the energy ecosystem are accelerating this evolution and changing how utilities operate.

The increase in customer-owned DERs generates variable, unpredictable energy, making it difficult for utilities to forecast their available load and optimised grid reliability. The urgent need for utilities to integrate and orchestrate DERs to retain network safety, security and reliability is a significant driver for technology optimisation and grid modernisation, which entails upgrading the hardware and software elements of the electricity network.

But how do utilities approach grid modernisation without negatively impacting cost or efficiency?

Starting with the software can reduce the overall cost of hardware investments, helping keep grid modernisation efforts affordable, reliable and secure.

Increasingly, utilities are investing in a Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS), a technology system that controls and optimises the flow of electricity from DERs, such as solar panels and battery storage.

Deploying a DERMS solution helps “right-size” hardware grid investments by managing congestion on the grid and ensuring that any new hardware upgrade is utilised to its full value shortly after the investment is made. This helps utilities avoid or defer grid investment and create greater operational and economical optimisation of the power grid.

How can DERMS increase preparedness for energy transition-related disruptions?

From full integration and greater visibility of power production and consumption to monitoring and smart dispatching, to scheduling and optimisation, DERMS provide benefits and resilience to a variety of entities, including electrical utilities, grid operators and energy consumers.

Additionally, by managing the output of DERs in real time, DERMS help improve the overall efficiency of the electrical grid.

Using algorithms to forecast energy production and demand, DERMS can also provide grid operators with valuable data on the performance of DERs, which can be used to identify problems, improve the design of future DERs installations and respond quickly to changes in conditions.

The usage of widely accepted standardised DER communication protocols like IEEE 2030.5 in a DERMS solution brings significant value to the utility, helping them to connect to and leverage the world of DERs—big, small and aggregated.

This allows entities to be more strategic and resilient as they make decisions and navigate the journey to net-zero.

What key factors should utilities consider when investing in DERMS?

Utilities should look for vendors and solutions that offer modular applications and flexible deployment models, providing options for how much investment is needed, both now and in the future. These options allow utilities to adapt and grow over time, keeping pace with increases in DER electrotechnology penetration.

When investing in DERMS solutions, utilities should partner with an experienced enterprise systems integrator that provides a tailored technology roadmap and supports the interconnectivity of DERMS solutions with core legacy operational systems and applications.

Enterprise DERMS can help utilities intelligently and safely manage and control a variety of DERs to transform challenges into operational and financial benefits.

Ultimately, DERMS help balance and modernise the grid, foster resilience, increase efficiency and reliability for both consumers and utilities and accelerate our collective journey to net-zero.

Learn more about CGI’s energy and utilities services and solutions, including  enterprise DERMS .