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The Fight over the Management of Distributed Energy Resources

(Joseph Gottlieb, CTO, Tuesday September 8, 2020)

One of the issues that has emerged from the growth of distributed energy resources (DERs) is “who should be in charge of managing these resources?” To put things in perspective, residential photovoltaic (PV) solar installations in the US have reach 2,500 MW (it was one-tenth of this ten years ago). Because of the potential disruption this can bring to existing electric markets, there are some really strong opinions on this subject of who should be able to manage it. One of the challenges for utilities is that the “supervisory control and data acquisition” (SCADA) used by utilities to manage large distributed energy resources such as powerplants does not “scale down” well to the level of most residential or commercial building PV installations, or to vehicle to grid (V2G) energy storage systems.

Clearly, utilities would like to manage all of these DERs, but if SCADA isn’t up to the task, what mechanism is available to utilities to manage them?  There is also a challenge of incentivizing DER owners to put their energy into the grid instead of using it, along with battery-based storage, to perform “peak shaving” (reduction of power usage during peak periods) for their own energy costs, also known as “behind the meter” energy management. One mechanism that is being embraced is setting up “DER marketplaces” – forums where DER owners can “sell” their power (or at least understand the value of their power). This is similar to the approach that is being utilized with V2G. “Smart inverters” (such as those that meet UL 1741-SA) are one way to provide handshaking between DERs and the utilities, both for PV solar and for V2G applications.

Rhombus has built high-power bi-directional inverters for renewable energy such as “behind the meter” grid energy storage systems for several years. We have applied that expertise to the design of our bi-directional electric vehicle (EV) charging systems, which are designed from the start for the needs of fleet operators. As a leader in the development and manufacturing of bi-directional, high-power systems for both vehicle charging and grid energy storage applications, Rhombus is unusually experienced in high-power charging systems for EVs, and  the area of V2G charging. Rhombus  also excels in the design and testing of high-power electrical equipment to meet the requirements of UL and other certification organizations. We have built hundreds of V2G-capable high-power, high-reliability chargers for a variety of different sizes and classes of EVs. Find out how we can help you by contacting us at, or by reading our Vehicle to Grid Solution Brief.

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