In search of enlightened policy to build a solid business case.
Massoud Amin is Chairman of the IEEE Smart Grid, an ASME fellow (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), and a member of two utility industry regional entities that oversee reliability – the Texas Reliability Entity (as board chairman) and the Midwest Reliability Organization (as a board member). At the University of Minnesota he serves as professor of electrical and computer engineering, and as director of the school’s Technological Leadership Institute (TLI). Dr. Amin has researched and written on self-healing grid concepts and solutions for two decades. Links to his work are available on the TLI’s website at http://massoud-amin.umn.edu/publications.html.
Skeptics occasionally describe a new technology as a solution in search of a problem. But in the case of microgrids, and of battery energy storage (BES) at the edge of the distribution grid, we have technically sound solutions to well-identified problems. The "search," if you will, ought now to focus on a positive business case, bolstered by sound policy. Yet it remains a complex task to create a positive business case, which is further complicated by outdated policies at the federal, state and local levels.
Technology, policy and standards must coalesce to produce value in this scenario, as with most smart grid-related implementations. Energy, communications, power electronics, and computing represent only a few of the technology elements that must be integrated to create a BES-assisted microgrid.
Financially successful, BES-assisted microgrid implementations depend on a complex matrix of factors that create multiple value streams. And that matrix will change, depending on whether microgrid ownership belongs to a utility, an end-customer, is shared between them, or belongs to a third party.