Accelerating Decarbonisation in 2024: The Critical Role of DERMS

Sally Jacquemin, Vice President & General Manager – Power & Utilities, AspenTech, explores the strategic advantages of deploying Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems.

Over recent years, Europe has been hit by a series of severe climate events, including droughts, floods, forest fires and heatwaves, which highlight the urgent need for governments and corporations to address climate change and reduce future risks.

Businesses increasingly recognise the urgency of the situation. In fact, nearly two-thirds (65%) of the annual income from the top 2,000 largest global companies is now under a net zero commitment, making it a standard practice in the corporate world. But is this sufficient?

There’s a growing demand to address urgent climate goals and commit to net zero emissions. To limit global warming to 1.5°C, global GHG emissions must peak by 2025, drop 43% by 2030, and reach net zero by 2050, according to Accenture. Organisations must quickly transition from setting targets to achieving actual results.

Technologists, policymakers, and energy sector leaders will play a crucial role in meeting climate goals. They will, after all, drive technological innovations essential to adapt to increasing consumer demands for sustainable products and services, changing regulations at a global level, and the rapid transition to clean energy.

One area of particular focus relates to Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems (DERMS). This advanced Operational Technology (OT) – designed for electric utilities, power producers, and aggregators to integrate and optimise the real-time control of renewable energy – is essential to drive the energy transition. Below are four key trends in which DERMS is poised to have a significant impact.

Strategic planning to ensure energy supply

Europe’s energy security faced significant challenges in autumn 2022, worsened by the Ukraine conflict, reduced hydropower in Southern Europe and caused numerous nuclear plant shutdowns in France. The European Union implemented a plan to reduce gas consumption by 15% from August 2022 to March 2023 through demand management strategies. While an unusually warm autumn helped, reliance on unpredictable factors is not a sustainable approach to securing energy.

DERMS emerges as a strategic digital solution to this challenge in that it facilitates the operation of small-scale power generation systems and distributed energy resources (DER) located close to consumption points, like homes and businesses.

This localisation of power generation can bring specific challenges for grid operators, but also alleviate the strain on electric grids and strengthen energy reliability, especially in areas that are prone to disasters or geographically isolated. In this context, an enterprise DERMS solution can enable surgical DER management, scheduling, economic optimisation and control across the network at any level of the electrical hierarchy – to address grid constraints and stability issues in real time.

Accelerating growth of the EV market

As the Electric Vehicle (EV) market is expected to grow significantly reaching a market volume of US$288.9 billion by 2028, it’s essential that infrastructure, particularly DERMS real-time Operational Technology (OT), keeps pace. DERMS is vital for efficiently managing EV battery charging, optimising grid usage, and smoothing power demand fluctuations. DERMS can help ensure the growing number of EVs does not strain the grid, supporting a transition to cleaner energy and aiding in carbon emission reduction by enabling smarter charging schedules.

Legislative frameworks embracing DERMS

European governments and regulatory bodies increasingly recognise DERMS as an important digital solution to achieve decarbonisation goals. There is 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. This legislative support underlines the critical importance of DERMS in transforming energy systems and meeting environmental targets.

Facilitating the integration of   renewable energy

As the future energy mix becomes more and more diversified, the need for effective management and integration of these intermittently available resources grows in importance. DERMS can play a key role in enabling seamless coordination and control of small-scale renewables and distributed energy resources, such as rooftop solar and grid-scale batteries, thereby ensuring grid stability and reliability even against the background unpredictable weather patterns and fluctuating supply and demand dynamics.

Looking to the future

Moving through 2024, the urgency for robust climate change action will continue to grow. DERMS stands out as a key digital technology in the decarbonisation journey, enabling the integration and intelligent automation of Distributed Energy Resources by utilities, commercial and industrial companies, and end consumers.

It plays a crucial role in enhancing energy security, aiding the expansion of the electric vehicle market, supporting legislative initiatives, and integrating renewable energy sources. DERMS is a key solution for guiding the global energy shift towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

Embracing and advancing DERMS technologies is vital for meeting near-term decarbonisation targets and moving towards a future with net negative emissions. This progression is crucial to mitigate the most severe impacts of climate change, while ensuring utilities and enterprises drive efficiency and ensure sustainability across their operations.

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