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Schneider Electric launches DERS ‘grid management solution’ with Autogrid

Schneider Electric’s ‘nanogrid’ in Illinois, which used saltwater batteries from startup Aquion Energy. Image: Schneider Electric.

Schneider Electric has partnered with Autogrid for a “grid management solution” that can incorporate and optimise diverse assets including energy storage, demand response and EV charging.

Engineering and technology multinational Schneider has integrated its ‘Advanced Distribution Management System’ (ADMS) – EcoStruxture with Autogrid’s Flex platform, allowing the two to interoperate using an open standard (IEEE 2030.5).

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Electric utilities increasingly need to be able to balance supply and demand for what is rapidly becoming a “complex, dynamic and multi-directional network”, Autogrid CEO Dr Amit Narayan said, with the grid experiencing the proliferation of distributed energy resources.

This means that the impact and capabilities of both behind-the-meter (BTM), customer-sited resources, from commercial and industrial (C&I) batteries to smart thermostats, and front-of-meter resources like solar and wind farms and large-scale batteries on the utilities’ side of the grid, will need to be modelled, forecasted, optimised and their flexibility “orchestrated”, Autogrid said in a release. The company claimed something of a global 'first' when it was contracted in 2015 by Eneco to create a “software-defined power plant” in the Netherlands that incorporated resources including CHP and industrial demand response. 

“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,” Narayan said.

The advanced tech on offer, combining cloud computing and artificial intelligence will help enable the 3Ds of the global energy transition: decentralisation, decarbonisation and digitisation, Narayan said.

“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.”

‘Energy internet’ advances on both sides of the meter

French oil & gas major Total is among previous investors in Autogrid, having put into the US company’s Series C round in 2016 via its venture capital arm, as part of a consortium that also included investment firms Energy Impact Partners and Envision Ventures as well as Germany-headquartered utility E.On.

Total in particular was keen to bolster its understanding of and stake in the “energy internet” space in which Autogrid has carved out a niche, reported at the time of that investment in September 2016.

More recently, in June last year, Autogrid took its flexible DERs management proposition to Japan’s national grid(s), joining a virtual power plant (VPP) project that expects to add more than 10,000 aggregated assets to its portfolio by 2021, through a contract with Japanese energy management services company ENERES.

Aggregating distributed energy resources (DERS) into the Flex platform means that utility customers will be able to interface with various programmes that value these services, with opening up of the US wholesale market to distributed energy storage via regulator FERC’s Order 841 being one powerful case-in-point.

“This mutually beneficial strategic partnership will help us bring new innovative solutions and services to our customers on both sides of the meter,” Schneider Electric’s executive VP of its Services Business, Frederic Abbal, said.

“These cutting-edge capabilities will help our customers manage their distributed energy resources and enable them to fully integrate renewable energy onto the grid.”

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