The Backbone for a Clean, Reliable Energy Future: Schneider Electric and PG&E Announce Solution on Microsoft Azure to Maximize Value of EVs, Solar and Battery Energy Storage as Flexible Grid Resources

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Jul 25, 2023

PR Newswire

  • Deployment of the cloud-based energy management platform enables adoption of greater amounts of distributed energy resources and faster grid connections
  • Breakthrough collaboration provides an intelligent system to maintain grid reliability during periods of extreme weather and heavier demand for electricity

BOSTON and OAKLAND, Calif., July 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Schneider Electric and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today announced the deployment of a distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) on Microsoft Azure to more effectively maintain grid reliability, and accelerate customer adoption of distributed energy resources (DER) such as electric vehicles, energy storage and rooftop solar.

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Maintaining reliable energy service has grown more challenging as the country navigates extreme weather and heavier demand for electricity. The exponential growth of DER promises much-needed load flexibility as more renewables come online. DERMS provides the ability to harness that flexibility when and where it's needed.

The DERMS technology provides greater visibility into DER behavior and the ability to control DER intelligently. Greater situational awareness allows for more proactive management to keep the grid safe, secure and resilient, while helping utilities provide clean, reliable and affordable energy to their customers.

EcoStruxure DERMS is a cloud-based, grid-aware software platform, which runs on Microsoft Azure, that integrates, analyzes, and optimizes data from DER—like solar, electric vehicles, battery energy storage, and microgrids. That data then provides electric grid operators with enhanced communication and coordination capabilities to unlock the value of DER as flexible grid resources.

"PG&E is partnering with the best and the brightest to deliver breakthrough solutions for our customers. Having efficient and reliable renewable energy resources integrated into the grid, with a powerful DERMS controlling and synchronizing them means that we can continue to grow the share of renewables in the grid while maintaining safe and reliable power," said Patti Poppe, Chief Executive Officer, PG&E Corporation. "It's a customer-focused energy solution that will bolster reliability and affordability on the path to a clean energy future."

PG&E serves more than 16 million people across Northern and Central California, where its customers are often early adopters of new, clean energy technologies. PG&E is taking proactive measures to ensure grid reliability and meet the growing electricity demands of California.

  • PG&E has connected more than 700,000 customers with rooftop solar to the electric grid, and more than 55,000 PG&E residential, business and government customers have installed battery energy storage systems connecting to the grid across PG&E's service area, totaling more than 500 megawatts (MW) of capacity.
  • Over the past few years, PG&E has made significant progress deploying grid-scale battery energy storage. In August of 2020, PG&E had just 6.5 megawatts (MW) of battery energy storage connected to the power grid. Today, PG&E has 1,200 MW of storage capacity operation, and by September this year, it expects to have 1,700 MW online, or enough to meet the instantaneous demand of 1.2 million homes at once. PG&E has contracts for battery energy storage systems totaling more than 3,000 MW to be deployed over the next few years.
  • As outlined in its Climate Strategy Report, PG&E is preparing the grid to power and support three million EVs on the road in its service area by 2030, with goals of more than two million of them participating in vehicle-grid-integration initiatives, allowing EVs to be a cornerstone of both electric reliability and climate resilience.
  • PG&E's Vehicle to Everything (V2X) pilots offer incentives to help customers access new bidirectional charger technology to use their car battery to power their home and send stored power back to the grid on high demand days.

DERMs will enable the dispatch of these technologies when California needs energy most.

The advantages that EcoStruxure DERMS provides through the advanced management of DER directly supports PG&E's plans for meeting and exceeding California's climate and clean energy goals, while supporting an affordable transition to a highly electrified, renewable grid.

A Unified Team for Improved Grid Management

The collaboration among Microsoft, PG&E, and Schneider Electric to develop and launch a DERMS strategy symbolizes the power of a unified team with diverse talents and expertise working collaboratively to achieve a new utility-industry standard for integrating DER at scale.

Annette Clayton, Chief Executive Officer of Schneider Electric North America, lauded PG&E's comprehensive, cloud-enabled DERMS strategy as an example of Schneider Electric's Grid to Prosumer philosophy. "This methodology empowers utility companies to digitally transform to achieve their sustainability, efficiency, reliability, and flexibility goals. This approach to optimize distributed energy resources is agile enough to keep up with 21st century demands on the grid. A stepwise approach is key in DER implementation to effectively handle short-term goals and prepare for the long-term vision."

The collaboration builds on Schneider Electric's 30-year co-innovation relationship with Microsoft to deliver solutions integrating Microsoft Azure, an open cloud computing platform with the tools, scale and security to address the demands of critical energy infrastructure today and in the future.

"Collaboration is key to addressing the complex global energy challenges and achieving a more sustainable future," remarked Darryl Willis, Corporate Vice President, Energy & Resources Industry at Microsoft. "Our collaboration showcases the power of combining expertise and leveraging digital innovation to help deliver a future-ready, secure, agile and resilient grid."

Priority Use Cases

Schneider Electric's DERMS strategy, ranked the #1 DERMS solution in 2022 Guidehouse Insights Leaderboard, offers a variety of capabilities, and together with Microsoft and PG&E, the companies have identified several foundation use cases for the new system, including:

  • Real-time visibility into all DER. Enhanced situational awareness of grid impacts, both in real-time and with forecasted lookahead, plus instant alerts for improved operations planning.
  • System capacity for peak summer days. Visualized DER capacity, timely impact analysis, customer feedback (measurement and verification), and additional DER capacity.
  • Local capacity for new service connections and interconnections. Oversight of interconnection requests enables utilities to leverage actionable data to faster evaluate and process DER connection requests and streamline processes that ensure resilience.
  • Reliability and resilience with energy storage. Utility-owned & aggregator-provided storage asset dispatch for improving local reliability and network deferral (non-wire alternatives).
  • Transportation electrification. Integration, managed charging and vehicle-to-grid coordination for residential vehicles and commercial fleets.

They are continuing to build and enhance the platform to address additional use cases over the next several years.

About PG&E

PG&E, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG, Financial), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.

About Schneider Electric

Schneider's purpose is to empower all to make the most of our energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all. We call this Life Is On.

Our mission is to be your digital partner for Sustainability and Efficiency.

We drive digital transformation by integrating world-leading process and energy technologies, end-point to cloud connecting products, controls, software and services, across the entire lifecycle, enabling integrated company management, for homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure and industries.

We are the most local of global companies. We are advocates of open standards and partnership ecosystems that are passionate about our shared Meaningful Purpose, Inclusive and Empowered values.

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