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Innovative ideas for every utility

The disruption of transactive energy

Stephen Hill
Sr. Content Development Specialist

Imagine a scenario where a utility customer has extra power from a solar and battery storage system, and wants to sell those stored kilowatts to a neighbor, relative or acquaintance.

Not an easy thing to do, and is truly a disruptive technology for how utilities normally transport and distribute electric power. Welcome to the new world of transactive energy where customers sell their excess power directly to other customers, all with the blessing, and the platform for doing this from the utility.

Ameren Services, serving customers in Missouri and Illinois, undertook such a challenge in a recent demonstration scenario and reported its progress at DTech 2020.

Most transactive energy exchanges will involve distributed energy resources, DERs, such as storage units connected to a renewable generation source.

Ameren conducted this internal process with their engineers operating fictional DERs and choosing whether or not to buy or sell their excess power on the Ameren network. The scenario operated with several parameters for a theoretical transactive energy marketplace.

The goals and parameters for this exercise included:

  • Optimal siting and operations of distributed assets
  • Safe cybersecurity for customers interacting on the grid
  • Required reliability of grid assets
  • Improved resiliency of the communities served by the utility
  • New options for customer interaction with the grid

Individuals participating in the exercise would buy and sell energy based on market rules created by Ameren, and based upon real world prices, and operations of the network. One of the key activities that Ameren hoped to learn was how to take the energy from a DER, and deliver an equal amount to another customer.

While the exercise didn’t incorporate blockchain technology for the transactions, a real transactive energy marketplace would probably incorporate some type of encrypted technology to protect exchanges.

Ultimately, Ameren wanted to understand how and whether to move transactive energy principles from innovation projects to normal business operations within the industry. While the project proved the technical issues can be overcome, there’s still the question of just how will the average utility customer participate in a transactive energy market.

Most utilities might consider this scenario too far in the future for serious consideration, but this disruptive technology is coming. As more DERs proliferate utility networks, more customers will be asking for a transactive energy marketplace.

Utilities would be wise to pay attention to what Ameren did here; one day they will probably have to conduct transactive energy as a normal part of the business operation.

 

We’ll be covering the entire DISTRIBUTECH 2020 conference live on the blog and on Twitter and LinkedIn. Come join the conversation. Or visit us onsite at the booth at 2809 or read more below:

 

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