DER and microgrid companies poised to help as summer heat threatens the US grid
With grid operators signaling that that the summer could bring power shortfalls, companies that pool together resources such as residential and commercial solar, storage and microgrids are poised to jump in and provide grid flexibility in an effort to keep the lights on.
The Washington Post recently described the electric grid as “wheezing” and said a number of states are bracing for blackouts. For example, New Mexico’s attorney general is readying for “worst case scenarios” after a regional utility warned of possible blackouts and North Dakota regulators have told the state to prepare for rolling outages.
Enphase Energy, OhmConnect, CPower, SunRun and Honeywell are among the resource aggregators that are stepping in to lend the grid a hand — and getting compensated for it. These aggregators generally pool residential and commercial solar, storage and microgrids and offer them to the grid to fill in the gaps during periods of peak demand or stress. In most cases, the residential and commercial resource owners are paid — indirectly through demand response and other programs — for providing some of the output of their solar, storage or microgrids to the grid. This revenue helps pay for the cost of their systems.
“We expect the grid to be increasingly strained as climate change continues to impact various regions in different ways,” said Andy Newbold, senior director of corporate communications at Enphase, which offers microinverters for solar panels along with storage, and often partners with solar companies to create home and commercial microgrids. Enphase expects to see more record heat waves across the country and more outages, Newbold said.
Enphase now has nearly 2 million systems deployed, most of them residential and commercial microgrids. They generally include another company’s solar panels, the Enphase microinverter, which converts DC from solar panels to AC power, an Enphase IQ battery and an Enphase controller. The Enphase IQ10 battery provides about 10 kWh, for example.