Distributed energy resources (DERs) can smooth the transition to clean energy by providing the flexibility that the grid increasingly needs to maintain the balance between supply and demand that is necessary to avoid blackouts or brownouts. Aggregating DERs into virtual power plants that can be dispatched as a single entity can be especially helpful by balancing supply and demand faster, more reliably and more affordably than other sources of flexibility.
Flexibility matters more each day because the grid faces multiple challenges that collectively compromise its ability to reliably deliver electricity as energy users have come to expect. From aging infrastructure to the greater use of intermittent, renewable generation resources to more frequent extreme weather and the rapid electrification of transportation, the grid struggles to balance supply and demand.
When the grid is flexible, however, supply and demand seamlessly shift to maintain this balance, despite expected or unexpected changes to either side. DERs are particularly well-suited for supplying this much-needed flexibility because they are cost-effective, can be deployed rapidly and can provide a wide range of grid services.
This white paper elaborates on the potential that DERs offer and the benefits that could come from fully unlocking their value. In sharing our experience, analysis and insights, we intend to begin a broader discussion about how we could collectively ensure the flexibility the grid needs to transition to clean energy through DERs in general and VPPs specifically.
- The way the grid has operated for decades no longer provides sufficient flexibility.
- The grid’s mounting need for flexibility shows up in all the products and programs grid operators use to ensure the system remains in balance.
- DERs provide valuable grid services that reward energy users for helping to keep supply and demand balanced.
- VPPs formed with customer DERs are a largely untapped resource that can be quickly added to the generation stack to provide clean, cost-effective flexibility to the grid.
- The Customer-Powered Grid™ will enable a flexible, clean and dependable energy future.
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