Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

AutoGrid and Schneider integrate DERs into smart grids

Steve Rogerson
January 30, 2020
 
California-based AutoGrid is working with Schneider Electric to integrate distribution management and distributed energy resources (DERs) into future smart grids.
 
French firm Schneider Electric has signed a global reseller agreement to distribute AutoGrid Flex to electric utilities to automate the entire value chain from consumers to control centre.
 
AutoGrid specialises in flexibility management software for the energy industry. The partnership with Schneider Electric should help energy providers integrate customer owned or operated flexible DERs into their distribution management operations.
 
The joint offering, integrating Schneider EcoStruxure advanced distribution management system (ADMS) with Flex, an integrated flexibility management application, uses the open IEEE 2030.5 standard to exchange data and control signals.
 
“As distributed energy resources proliferate, electric utilities want a way to balance supply and demand across a complex, dynamic and multi-directional network,” said Amit Narayan, chief executive officer of AutoGrid. “Combining our solution with Schneider’s capabilities allows energy providers to harness data to balance a distributed grid with flexible capacity from all grid-connected DERs.”
 
The capabilities enable a comprehensive approach to modelling, forecasting, optimising and orchestrating flexibility from all behind-the-meter (BTM) DERs connected to the electricity grid. This brings real-time visibility and control across the full spectrum of BTM and front-of-the meter utility-scale assets such as energy storage, solar PV, wind, thermostats, water heaters, electric vehicle chargers, and commercial and industrial demand response for transmission and distribution network operators.
 
“Great partners like AutoGrid make us a stronger company,” said Frederic Abbal, executive vice president at Schneider Electric. “This mutually beneficial strategic partnership will help us bring new innovations and services to our customers on both sides of the meter. These cutting-edge capabilities will help our customers manage their distributed energy resources and enable them to fully integrate renewable energy onto the grid.”
 
Much of the activity in the new energy landscape has shifted behind the meter to grid-edge assets. With Flex, regulated utilities can aggregate, optimise and manage BTM assets directly from the control centre for applications such as demand management, renewable balancing and peak load reduction.
 
The ability to use DER assets for grid management will help utilities increase their return on investment by getting compensated for providing grid services or through participation in wholesale markets. Utilities benefit by growing capacity without the expense of updating grid infrastructure and improving overall power quality and system reliability. They can pass these savings to energy consumers, creating a virtuous cycle for adoption of new energy technologies.
 
The combination will enable utilities to deliver personalised, value-based experiences to their customers, increasing satisfaction and opening opportunities to wider adoption of electric vehicles, solar, storage and other smart devices. Utilities will be able to offer programmes and incentives to energy consumers, simultaneously boosting customer satisfaction and participation in DER-based grid services programmes.
 
The aim is to provide a seamless, AI-based personalisation interface for energy customers to learn about eligible cost-saving offers and enrol their assets into the utility programmes right at the time of their purchase. All contractual and operational constraints will be managed by the system, and energy customers will retain full control on how and when they would participate in these programmes.
 
“AutoGrid and Schneider Electric share a common vision for a future where energy companies can use advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and high-performance cloud computing to effectively manage a decarbonised, decentralised and digitised grid,” said Narayan. “Our Flex software combined with Schneider’s best-in-breed ADMS enables the modern energy system by managing both data and energy in a distributed, dynamic, digital network.”