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Taming the Electrical Distribution Beast

PNNL model informs 21st Century grid system architecture and control solutions

December 2015
Taming the Electrical Distribution Beast
Distribution Reference Control-Market Model with high-penetration DER
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The gap between traditional approaches to electric distribution grid control and coordination, and the requirements of the newly evolving environment is widening rapidly. Distributed energy resources (DERs), combined with the expansion of responsive loads and increasing consumer expectations, have caused a reconsideration of the basic environment in which distribution control operates. In this emerging environment, it is important to frame the control problem as the whole problem in the context of a complete reference model and corresponding architecture.

At the EPRI International Technology Innovation Summit 2015 in October, Jeffrey Taft, PNNL's Chief Architect for Electric Grid Transformation, presented a new reference model for control of the electric distribution system. He described the associated control problem and key requirements. Taft also addressed energy generated or stored by a variety of small, grid-connected devices—DERs.

The new reference model recognizes that grid control must encompass many assets not owned by the utility. Correspondingly, control cannot rely solely upon grid data sources and communication channels. This in itself has implications for the design of advanced Distribution Management Systems—in terms of capabilities and cyber security. The model features a schematic representation of the problem domain to inform development of system architecture and control solutions for the emerging high-penetration DER electric system.

For more information, read the PNNL Report A Reference Model for Distribution Grid Control in the 21st Century.

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