18 Communications and Controls Technologies Dr Sunil Cherian Sixth Dimension

Historically, there was no demand for command and control solutions for distributed resources that had to take into account the diverse interests seen today. However, the emerging competitive energy environment brings this need to the forefront as a necessary ingredient for optimal market operation — it should be possible to buy and sell various value components of distributed resources in an open market. The current debates around distributed generation are a manifestation of various interested parties jockeying for position in the emerging competitive environment or, in many cases, attempting to delay the transition to full competition for self-preservation.

While there are new products to be built and new business models to be developed, there are few, if any, technical barriers to overcome to facilitate an open distributed generation (DG) market. However, the types of technologies that are required for effective operation of such an open market have never been widely utilized in the highly centralized, hierarchical control systems commonly found in utility supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.

Utility-owned generation facilities and substations are generally equipped with SCADA systems that enable centralized control of the whole system. These systems are custom designed and put in place for long periods of time. They are not designed for a dynamic DG marketplace where customers with generation assets may be continually added or removed from the system, where power is bought and sold in real time, and where different market participants may have control over different DG value streams.

The entities that will ultimately make an open market for DG work are energy consumers empowered with the tools to make rational market choices about energy services and service providers. Communication and control systems for managing distributed generation have to account for multiple service providers, a dynamic customer base, market-making capabilities, and a fluid asset base where generators can join and leave the network with little impact on the rest of the system.

It is highly likely that a well developed DG marketplace will share more in common with business-to-business e-commerce than with conventional utility SCADA systems. Such systems will include mechanisms for real time price discovery for the various value components of DG and mechanisms for dynamic value chain creation for delivering complete solutions to energy consumers. A fundamental requirement for such a flexible and scalable communication and control system — one that can meet the needs of market-based distributed generation — is distributed intelligence.

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.

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