From advanced metering infrastructure endpoints to electric-vehicle chargers, grid edge venture capital investments to demand response events, hundreds of data points go into tracking new trends at the edge of the grid.
Trends across these variables tell a story of transition, but perhaps not yet transformation. Customers hold more power than ever before in 2019, with utilities and vendors innovating to take advantage of new opportunities behind the meter. Meanwhile, external factors can always throw things off-course, and reliability is top of mind in light of last year's extreme weather events.
What does the 2018 data say about 2019?
For one thing, demand response evolved, enabled by new information and communications technology. Last year, wholesale market operators increasingly sought to leverage the dispatch of distributed energy resource flexibility in close to real time. Three independent system operators and regional transmission organizations called on demand response five times in total for relief in the summer of 2018, including the NYISO.
The demand response events called in the last 18 months send a clear message: Grid operators will continue to call events year-round. This story unfolds as reserve margins continue to tighten, fossil baseload generation retirements continue, and system operators are increasingly faced with proving the resiliency and reliability of their systems.
In 2019, the total amount of flexible demand response capacity for wholesale market participation will remain about the same. However, the way operators and aggregators are using demand response is changing as information and communications technology systems improve, allowing the behavior of resources to be more accurately forecasted, monitored and controlled.
These improvements are allowing customer-sited resources to offer flexibility services closer to real-time operations and become more reactive to system needs. At the same time, traditional demand response will continue to evolve toward the orchestration of DERs as an aggregate flexible resource to better enable growing levels of renewable energy on the grid.