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Chances are, you already know you should eat at least three cups of vegetables and a couple of cups of fruit each day, but do you? Probably not. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that only one in 10 adults met the federal fruit or vegetable recommendations in 2017.

For utility personnel, distribution system automation is a little like those daily recommendations of fruit and veggie intake: It’s something we all know we should do, but we’re not necessarily doing it.

That was one finding from a recent survey conducted by Zpryme, an energy-focused research firm. Results of the survey are examined in the new white paper, Today and Tomorrow: The Distribution Automation Ecosystem.




In the study, nearly 90% of survey respondents agreed that DA is critical for their grid modernization efforts, but nearly a third of utility respondents (29%) said their utilities are still in the discovery phase of DA technology deployment. Only 5% say their DA plans have already been deployed.

Are they implementing DA quickly enough? No, because changes affecting the grid mandate that DA efforts move more quickly.


DER driving DA

Among the distributed energy resources (DER) utilities are ramping up to accommodate are distributed solar installations, distributed storage and electric vehicles (EVs). It took some five years for EVs to reach one million in sales and just six months for EV manufacturers to sell their second million. By 2040, BNEF expects 55% of all new cars sold to be electric.

Distributed solar installations in the U.S numbered around 2 million in 2018, but GTM Research expects them to nearly double by 2022, rising to nearly 3.8 million.

Meanwhile, battery energy storage faces some industry hurdles, including supply chain issues. But, during the third quarter of 2018, the sector still logged 198% growth year-over-year in behind-the-meter deployments as well as nearly double the quarter-over-quarter deployment in front-of-meter installations, according to the Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables U.S. energy storage monitor. Wood Mackenzie researchers project that U.S. energy storage deployments will reach 3.9 gigawatts by 2023.


What Zpryme found

Managing all those DER – with the unpredictable energy patterns and two-way energy flow they will bring – will require grid-edge intelligence and plenty of automation. According to 79% of survey respondents, integrating renewables will change the importance of DA initiatives in the next three to five years. Nearly as many said the same for energy storage integration (75%), EV infrastructure (74%) and microgrid integration (73%).

Survey respondents know DA is vital to distribution system health, but only 9% say they feel prepared to manage the impact of DER today – basically the same percentage of U.S. residents who follow government eating guidelines. Are you among that 9%?

If not, you’ll find food for thought in the Zpryme survey report, which appears in Today and Tomorrow: The Distribution Automation Ecosystem. The paper explores:

  • What people at peer utilities see as the top DA use cases
  • Which factors are holding DA efforts at bay
  • How DA will benefit distribution systems

You’ll also see smart pointers for moving forward with DA initiatives.

So, help yourself. Download the white paper. Read it lunch … while you’re virtuously eating a salad.


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