VPPs And Advanced Techs Could Add 20-100 GW To US Grids

The US can go on to make use of advanced grid technologies on the existing transmission as well as distribution systems to go ahead and as well support up to 100 GW of incremental peak demand when every technology happens to get installed individually and, as a matter of fact, even more when installed in combinations, said the Department of Energy on April 15.

Rolling out technologies such as dynamic line ratings called DLR as well as virtual power plants could go on to help defer $5 billion to $35 billion when it comes to transmission and distribution infrastructure expenses in the next five years, as per the report, DOE’s Pathways to Commercial Liftoff: Advanced Grid Deployment.

Typically, advanced grid technology can indeed be deployed at less than a quarter of the expense of transmission lines and at the same time significantly more quickly, which is in less than three years as compared to almost a decade for some transmission projects, said Maria Robinson, who happens to be the director of the Grid Deployment Office of the DoE.

It is well to be noted that the Advanced Grid Deployment report happens to be the latest in a series of DOE reports that come with the objective of showing how numerous energy technologies can go ahead and reach commercial liftoff, which is led by the private sector with support coming from the government.

There has been assessment of 20 advanced grid solutions, like advanced conductors, topology optimization, advanced distribution management systems, and communications technologies.

As per Robinson, the solutions that have been talked about are ready to go at once and can as well go on to serve as a bridge in order to address near-term concerns, such as all the client needs that surround transmission and distribution, while one continues to build those out longer term in addition to the generation capacity.

As per the DOE, the DLR technology, for instance, can happen to get scaled in less than three months post-initial implementation so as to increase effective transmission capacity on the existing line by 10% to even 30% on average, and that too at less than 5% of the cost of rebuilding a line in order to expand the capacity.

While advanced grid technologies can go on to boost capacity, enhance the reliability and, at the same time, lessen costs, their widespread usage happens to be lagging, says the DOE.

It adds that traditional cost-of-service models such as investor-owned utility business models have not kind of sufficiently incentivized such solutions to warrant the prominent and upfront planning, engineering, operational, and organizational effort that are required to go ahead and roll out the advanced technologies at scale.

The commercial liftoff when it comes to advanced grid solutions can very well be achieved if the utilities and regulators comprehensively value and integrate them within their grid investment, planning, and operations.

Apparently, liftoff can very well be reached by way of deploying 6 to 12 large, no-regrets projects that make use of the federal funds and throughput a range of utility contexts for every technology.

The projects can very well be put in place sans directly increasing ratepayer costs, says the department. It is well to be noted that the transmission owners went ahead and spent $26 billion in 2023, replacing the aging transmission as well as the distribution infrastructure, remarked the director of DOE’s Loan Programs Office, Jigar Shah, during the briefing.

Making use of a fifth of current asset replacement investments in order to proactively upgrade the infrastructure with advanced grid solutions would go on to double industry-wide investment across those solutions while at the same time also enhancing grid capacity and reliability sans adding costs to the ratepayers, said the DOE.

The fact is that important DOE funding happens to be available for the advanced grid solutions like for example by way of its Grid Resilience as well as Innovation Partnerships program, as per Robinson. In mid-November 2023, DOE went on to launch a $3.9 billion funding opportunity by way of its GRIP program. It is most likely going to have an increased focus on projects that can surge the capacity of the existing transmission rights, said Ribinson.

Notably, the DOE is going to be holding a webinar to have a discussion pertaining to the liftoff report on May 13.

The AES, LineVision DLR case study

Meanwhile, AES as well as LineVision, which happens to be a company that makes dynamic line rating equipment, on April 15 released a case study which showed the initial results from DLR deployments across Indiana and Ohio.

Static line ratings are set to fix the limits on transmission capacity while the DLR continuously goes on to evaluate environmental factors such as temperature, wind, as well as conductor temperature and, at the same time, adjusts line ratings to match such conditions, say AES and LineVision.

In the case study, the companies say that the combined value of this DLR solution went on to improve the rating methodologies so as to make sure to avail efficient use of the existing line carrying capacity as well as enhanced situational awareness of the grid asset performance, which enhances the cost-benefit ratio for customers, thereby enabling strategic investments and also change, and increases the grid reliability.

Notably, the planning process when it comes to adding DLR sensors to five AES transmission lines went on to take two months, and as a matter of fact, it took less than two weeks to go ahead and even install them, as pointed out.

Based on the rollout, AES and LineVision went on to find out that extra high-voltage lines on the steel structures having suspension-type insulators are indeed well suited in terms of out-of-the-box DLR installations.

The companies opine that if load growth, reliability, congestion, or even a similarly beneficial narrative go on to support the comparatively modest investment within the DLR technology, such types of lines go on to present a use case in terms of rapid scaling for the U.S. electrical grid.