Co-ops finding ways to integrate renewable energy

WindTurbines(4890)12-17-04RCrpThe National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) has joined with a ­coalition of energy technology ­partners to create a tool for ­developing and ­testing what could be a critical ­component of the future electrical grid.

Led by Atlanta-based ProsumerGrid, Inc., the group signed a ­$3-million contract with the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program to develop software that will test the effectiveness of ­distribution ­system ­operators (DSOs). Various forms of DSOs are being ­considered in many states as a way to ­integrate and ­manage ­distributed energy sources on the grid, including solar, wind and stored energy.

The team will develop a Distribution System Operator Simulation Studio (DSOSS) that “aims to ­simulate how these new control and pricing schemes would work before they are rolled out,” said David Pinney, Analytics Program Manager in NRECA’s Business and Technology Strategies department.

Today no software tool exists that can ­simulate and test renewable ­energy’s potential impact on the physical grid or on market operations.

If the project succeeds, integrating renewable energy into the grid could become easier, Pinney said.