The Potential of Electrifying Everything: Exploring Energy Breakthroughs from the Bottom-Up

We at Smarter Grid Solutions understand how important it is to contribute to the advancement of clean energy and make it the universal energy choice for more applications. With the rise and accessibility of renewable power for industrial, residential, and commercial applications, we can now visualize modernizing the grid along a pathway towards near-complete electrification. Electrifying all essential built environment systems of transportation, power and heat is a reality that Smarter Grid Solutions is embracing, and smart capabilities are the crucial enabler to make full and clean electrification feasible.

 

The transportation industry has become the fastest and most evident new application for renewable energy and electrical conversion. With the ongoing growth of electric vehicles (EV) on the road, so has the need for charging stations. Unfortunately, in its current state, the electrical grid would become easily overwhelmed with potential peak loads from new EV charging loading. Smart charging and the installation of lithium-ion batteries at rapid, high-power charging sites can deliver much more vehicle charging capacity within a given fixed grid infrastructure.

 

Such investments in battery storage can also deliver capabilities beyond supporting EV charging stations and create further opportunities in electrifying power and heating systems. When not charging, the batteries can act as reservoirs of power, collecting surplus energy from renewable generation in readiness for peak power periods and enabling the sale of surplus clean energy back to the grid. Scheduling batteries to charge when excess renewable generation is present and then discharge during times of high demand can manage the stress brought to the grid and the price variability that also comes with varying electrical supply and demand.

 

Investing and managing renewable power, energy storage and other smart applications is capital intensive, but the costs of these technologies are decreasing rapidly. Finance and energy asset installation and operation by a third party, in an Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) business model, is a likely path forward for many industrial, residential, and commercial energy users embarking on the cleaner, smarter electrification transition.

 

Smarter Grid Solutions’ Cirrus Flex product is designed to facilitate the EaaS business model through optimizing battery capabilities. Cirrus Flex remotely and automatically optimizes distributed energy resources (DER) schedule and dispatch, linking diverse DER assets and fleets between owners, operators, aggregators, and traders to maximize the returns from energy, grid services, and flexibility markets.  It provides the smart technology to animate the new operating and business models that deliver the full value from the new energy assets as well as deliver the full, clean “electrify everything” strategy.

 

In the transportation electrification application, how does the investment of onsite batteries at charging stations help enable a solution for electrifying buildings, heating systems, and more? With batteries deployed to balance energy flows between the grid and diverse DER assets over time, there is an opportunity to bring the virtual power plant concept to individual hybrid energy asset sites, further decentralizing the grid. In instances of service interruption, industrial, residential, and commercial energy users can use their stored power to operate and share energy among other buildings and customers to deliver local resilience. This, partnered with trading of excess power generated, can make the transition much more attractive to the customer and help make the onsite batteries, and the virtual power plants they enable, a day-to-day economic reality. 

 

Current legislation, regulation and low demand limit the participation and incentivization of such full electrification approaches. Up-front costs, perceived technology immaturity and unknown maintenance burden may also repel some customers from even considering making the switch to all-electric. The general populace is unlikely to buy EVs without proper charging infrastructure, despite incentives, tax credits, and lower through-life costs. The technology for accessible electrification, such as EVs, is not yet at the tipping point to dominance for these reasons but that may be getting closer.

 

In an all-electric paradigm, how can we make electricity equitable? Customer demand can be incentivized with legislative influence to expand the renewable electricity market. With regions such as California requiring onsite charging and solar panel installation in new homes, we will further reduce the costs and resolve access problems for future installations. In addition, further regulating and incentivizing EV charging times to decrease the occurrence of peaking can help all users become good citizens of the grid.

 

The transition to a clean grid is not only possible but essential. With current conversations on full electrification, this model may be on its way to dominance, and we highlight the opportunities of integrating battery and EV charging with EaaS business models, virtual power plants and smart management. As we join with fellow innovators in the new energy market in striving towards delivering net zero-carbon, we look forward to collaborating with customers and partners to make the electrify everything model a reality. Smarter Grid Solutions welcomes conversations to accelerate a completely clean and sustainable energy system in the forthcoming years.

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