The grid of the future is taking shape now. As variable generation assets such as solar PV become a bigger presence in US energy markets, utilities are demanding increased scrutiny and constraints on solar power plant deployments. Those demands will expand to DG assets, and many more US markets, over the next decades, bringing new data security concerns as well. As grid interconnection becomes increasingly complex, EPCs must manage costs and risk for more challenging project rollouts. And because grid support requirements for a solar project commissioned this year might look different five or ten years down the road, owners face a shifting landscape as they look for return on investment.
Complex interconnection requirements are becoming more common in the US, even for rooftop projects. PV projects increasingly have to respond to curtailment, VAR schemes, frequency support, droop control, and ramp control, all of which affect real power output. The ways that power plants respond can vary considerably based on controller configurations. Recovery can be made to be slow and steady, guaranteeing compliance with grid code, but potentially failing to meet full production capacity. Or power plants can use innovative methods, such as Dynamic Energy Harvest Optimization, a process that AlsoEnergy will describe in detail in a forthcoming white paper.
Solving all these challenges during project deployment will be a significant hurdle for owners and EPCs. Delays in commissioning can quickly add costs and forestall revenue generation, putting financial performance at risk. Timelines are tight, quick decisions must be made, and the participants ought to arrive fully prepared. Remote, distributed teams need a platform that interfaces seamlessly with on-site SCADA to diagnose and collaborate to resolve issues in parallel.
Compounding the complexity of SCADA deployment is the challenge to meet the needs of several stakeholders in the project ecosystem. For asset owners, there is the demand to align regulatory compliance with power production in today’s market, as well as providing an open platform to allow for future grid service optimizations such as storage, data security, and energy forecasting systems. For operators, on site SCADA must be effectively integrated with a platform for remote monitoring, alarm management, and O&M deployments, helping small workgroups manage more megawatts. And EPCs are trying to avoid delays past the commercial operation date while ensuring the project meets regulatory requirements and performance benchmarks. Balancing the demands of all stakeholders and the utility during the tightly scheduled project deployment window is a complex challenge for a SCADA solution provider. This challenge calls for a systems-based approach to ensure repeatable, scalable results across various project types and locations.