TVA must in invest in and promote an intelligent grid to reduce the risk of reduced reliability and increased costs from the operational challenges that come along with increased distributed energy resources (DER) and an aging energy infrastructure. We are already seeing some areas of concern with distributed energy resources in our territory.
To continue to be able to provide competitive, low cost energy to the Tennessee Valley, TVA must implement intelligent grid technologies within our power systems—and assist our local power companies in doing the same—so we all will be able to compete in the future electric marketplace.
There are four focus areas within the Intelligent Grid priority area:
These technologies are relevant for all areas of the grid from generation through transmission and distribution and finally to the consumer. Actual technologies include areas such as microgrids, smart sensors, smart inverters, automatic meter infrastructure and distributed energy resources.
- Communications Platforms
Smart grid devices and systems will have to communicate to maximize the value of our assets. This will entail the development and acceptance of platforms and standards that are embraced by manufacturers, utilities, consumers and standard-setting bodies. This area will be challenging with 154 local power companies and the many technologies requiring high levels of collaboration.
There are two areas of integration to consider. First, technologies that must work together—such as PV inverters from one manufacturer integrating with storage inverters from another manufacturer, both of which have to work with local power company distribution management systems. Second, is the integration of distributed energy resources onto the grid so it does the most good and/or the least harm. TVA is working with it’s local power company partners on planning tools that can model the best and worse places for solar the power grid. This will enable local power companies to better plan future upgrades.
- Cyber Security
Cyber security is essential in the development of intelligent grid and spans systems and components from generation to the consumer. It spans many of the focus areas related to the Intelligent Grid. There is still work to be done with local power companies, vendors and standard-setting bodies to ensure that as an intelligent grid is built in a safe and secure manner.