Distribution Monitoring for Renewables Integration

Growing reliance on energy from renewable sources and rising demand from electric vehicles will challenge distribution systems in ways we don’t fully understand. Distribution Monitoring for Renewables Integration analyzes these impacts, helping ensure delivery of high-quality, safe, and reliable power to consumers.

Infrastructure and operations of distribution systems may need significant upgrades as renewable supplies and consumer demands mount. With generation and loads that can vary markedly — not just hourly but even second to second — more granular field data yield a far more useful picture of the behavior of distribution feeders. This deeper understanding helps utilities make wise, cost-effective investments in system upgrades.

Direct measurement of voltage, power flow, and harmonics from distribution circuits will fuel sound new models and forecasts of system behavior. Four California utilities are collaborating with UC researchers to outfit circuits with additional sensors, collect and analyze measurements, and form the scientific knowledge base to optimize service quality, cost, and environmental impact.

The project is creating a shared, expandable repository for field data, and analyzing the performance of different distribution circuits at different levels of distributed generation and electric-vehicle demand. This will lead to models of new distribution circuits that can predict — and help mitigate — any adverse impacts of distributed resources at high penetrations, while laying the foundation to extract their benefits.