Friday, July 12, 2024

Accelerating Decarbonisation in 2024: The Critical Role of DERMS

Sally Jacquemin

Sally Jacquemin, Vice President & General Manager – Power & Utilities, AspenTech

In recent years, Europe has faced a series of challenging climate-related events, ranging from severe droughts to widespread forest fires and from significant floods to intense heatwaves. Taken together, these episodes highlight the ongoing impact of climate change and underline the importance of government – and the world of business – taking substantial measures to mitigate future risks.

Today, we are seeing a clarion call for global commitments to pivot towards net negative emissions, underscoring an urgent need for revision of our climate ambitions. There is much work to do.

To keep global warming within the 1.5°C threshold, Accenture reports that worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to peak by 2025, decrease by 43% by 2030, and achieve net zero by 2050. It’s crucial for organisations to rapidly advance their efforts, moving beyond establishing goals to achieving tangible results.

Amid this backdrop of escalating climate urgency, the spotlight turns to technologists, policy makers and energy sector leaders. These stakeholders will be pivotal in propelling the energy transition beyond mere net zero aspirations, thanks to their ability to harness processes, systems and solutions to drive enhanced sustainability.

They will be key in driving through the technological innovation needed to deliver decarbonisation in the face of changing consumer expectations for products and services produced and delivered in a sustainable way; the accelerated shift towards clean energy; and evolving regulatory landscapes.

One technological beacon in this journey is the Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS), a sophisticated operational technology solution tailor-made for electric utilities, power producers, and aggregators. This system stands out as a critical enabler for advancing the energy transition. Below are four pivotal areas where DERMS is poised to make a significant impact in the coming year and beyond.

Ensuring Europe’s energy security through strategic planning

The energy security scenario in Europe during the autumn of 2022 was particularly dire, exacerbated by geopolitical tensions stemming from the war in Ukraine, diminished hydropower output in Southern Europe, and extensive nuclear plant shutdowns in France. In response, the European Union rallied to curtail gas consumption by 15% from August 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, through various demand management strategies. Although fortuitously supported by an exceptionally warm autumn, these measures, albeit effective, highlight how relying on chance is not a reliable way to ensure energy security.

DERMS emerges as a strategic solution to this predicament by facilitating the operation of small-scale power generation systems and distributed energy resources (DER) located in proximity to consumption points, such as homes and businesses. This localisation of power generation can bring unique challenges for grid operators, but also alleviate the strain on national grids and enhance energy reliability, especially in areas prone to disasters or those that are geographically isolated. An enterprise DERMS solution can allow for surgical DER management, scheduling, economic optimisation and control throughout the network—at any level of the electrical hierarchy—to address grid constraints and stability issues in real time.

Accelerating the growth of the electric vehicle market

With the Electric Vehicle (EV) market projected to grow at an annual rate of 12.1%, reaching a market volume of US$288.9 billion by 2028, supporting infrastructure must evolve concurrently to manage this surge.

DERMS plays a crucial role in this expansion by smartly managing EV battery charging processes, enhancing grid utilisation, and reducing fluctuations in power demand. This intelligent system ensures that as the number of EVs on the road increases, the grid can handle the load without compromising on efficiency or sustainability. Furthermore, by facilitating more strategic charging schedules, DERMS helps integrate EVs into the grid in a way that supports the broader goals of reducing carbon emissions and transitioning to cleaner energy sources.

Legislative frameworks embracing DERMS

The recognition of DERMS as a vital component in the decarbonisation journey is increasingly acknowledged by European governments and regulatory bodies. This has led to a concerted effort to promote the adoption of DERMS through the development of supportive policies and financial incentives aimed at encouraging utilities and businesses to invest in this technology. Such legislative measures not only underline the critical importance of DERMS in achieving environmental targets but also signal a strong commitment to transforming energy systems.

Facilitating the integration of renewable energy

As the future energy mix becomes increasingly diversified, incorporating small-scale renewable sources like rooftop solar and grid-scale batteries, the need for effective management and integration of these intermittently available resources becomes paramount. DERMS is instrumental in this regard, enabling seamless coordination and control of distributed energy resources, thus ensuring grid stability and reliability even amid fluctuating supply and demand dynamics attributable to unpredictable weather patterns.

Through 2024 and beyond

As 2024 tracks past, the imperative for decisive action on climate change has never been more acute. DERMS represents a cornerstone technology in the quest for decarbonisation, offering a multifaceted solution to the myriad challenges confronting the energy sector.

From bolstering energy security and supporting the burgeoning EV market to facilitating legislative support and integrating renewable resources, DERMS is pivotal in steering the global energy transition towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

As such, the adoption and further development of DERMS technologies not only align with immediate decarbonisation goals but also chart a course towards a net negative emission trajectory, a critical step in averting the direst predictions of climate change.

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