Distributed Energy

Distributed energy resources can relieve transmission bottlenecks by reducing the amount of electricity that must be sent long distances along high-voltage power lines.

The concept of Distributed energy refers to a variety of small, modular power-generating technologies that can be combined with load management and energy storage systems to improve the quality and reliability of the electricity supply.

They are "distributed" because they are placed at or near the point of energy consumption, unlike traditional centralized systems, where electricity is generated at a remotely located, large-scale power plant and then transmitted down power lines to the consumer.

Distributed energy is analogous to the historical evolution of computer systems

The growing popularity of distributed energy is analogous to the historical evolution of computer systems. Whereas we once relied solely on mainframe computers we now rely primarily on a small number of powerful servers networked with a larger number of desktop personal computers, all of which help to meet the information processing demands of the end users.

And just as the smaller size and lower cost of computers has enabled individuals to buy and run their own computing power, the same trend in renewable generating resources has enabled individual business and residential consumers to purchase and run their own electrical power systems.

Encompasses a wide range of technologies

Distributed energy encompasses a wide range of technologies including wind turbines, solar power, fuel cells, micro turbines, reciprocating engines and battery storage systems. The effective use of grid-connected distributed energy resources also requires power electronic interfaces and control devices for efficient dispatch and operation of these generating units.

Mitigate congestion in transmission lines

Renewable energy is playing an increasingly important role in the nation's energy portfolio. Wind and Solar energy can be used to meet backup power, remote power, power quality, peaking power, as well as heating needs. Distributed energy also has the potential to mitigate congestion in transmission lines, strengthen energy security, reduce the impact of electricity price fluctuations, and provide greater stability to the electricity grid.

Power generators are small, modular

Most distributed power generators are small when compared with a typical central power plant and provide unique benefits that are not available from centralized electricity generation. Many of these benefits stem from the fact that the generating units are inherently modular, which makes distributed power highly flexible.

Support and strengthen the central-station model

Grid-connected distributed energy resources also support and strengthen the central-station model of electricity generation, transmission, and distribution. While the central generating plant continues to provide most of the power to the grid, the distributed resources can be used to meet the peak demands of local distribution feeder lines or major customers.


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