The sudden rise of transactive energy—and how utilities can accelerate it
A big conference on transactive energy is less than one month away, and Ron Melton really wants you to be there.
Melton, the director of the Pacific Northwest smart grid project led by Battelle global research firm, tells us: “I wish all utilities knew these words, ‘transactive energy,’ but that’s not the case right now.”
At this particular conference–the First International Transactive Energy Conference and Workshop takes place on May 23 in Portland–researchers and utilities will work to develop a framework to accelerate the large-scale deployment of transactive energy techniques in the smart grid. The more utilities to help set standards for transactive energy, the better, Melton urges—especially considering transactive energy has yet to become a paradigm for most utilities.
But what exactly is transactive energy? It describes any economics-based management of the grid through intelligent devices, Melton explains. By converging economic and engineering techniques, transactive energy provides a virtual control system to predict energy cost and demand, and coordinate demand response, distributed storage and generation, and smart inverters. In turn, utilities can operate millions of distributed assets more smoothly.
Right now, 15 utilities are participating in Department of Energy-funded transactive energy projects started about 13 years ago at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
American Electric Power in Ohio is testing transactive control (TC) techniques that use real-time rates and software controllers to engage demand-side resources. For example, TC can automate the response of air conditioning systems based on real-time prices. Rural electric cooperatives Flathead Electric in Montana and Lower Valley Energy in Wyoming are implementing TC to automate demand response and reduce demand charges.
TC is the most talked about transactive technique as it measures and forecasts energy use, cost, and load in micro-intervals, sending signals between distributors and end-users. More and more, utilities can run dynamic pricing schemes that reduce costs, save energy and improve the grid’s integration of renewables by prioritizing the cheapest mix of power to supply the grid.
These myriad pricing schemes will be invaluable as utilities face an uphill battle to turn economic challenges into long-term wins.
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