Distributed Energy Resources Integration Research Roadmap
February 11, 2021
Energy Research and Development (500)
Electric Program Investment Charge - EPIC
The California Energy Commission (CEC) administers a portfolio of energy research and development programs that drive innovation to make California’s energy system more safe, reliable, sustainable, and affordable for its residents. Distributed energy resources (DER) —defined as distribution-connected generation resources, energy efficiency, energy storage, electric vehicles, and load flexibility technologies—represent an opportunity to further these goals and present a challenge for integrating efficiently with the existing, more centralized energy system. The CEC produced this research roadmap to identify opportunities that can help integrate DER into the existing system to maximize benefits for electric ratepayers. A wide range of DER types are considered, though not energy efficiency — which is the focus of numerous other studies. This roadmap uses three major organizing groups: (1) load-modifying technologies, (2) DER communications and controls, and (3) DER planning and strategy.
This project included a technical assessment of DER and barriers to efficient adoption, development of a prioritization method to assess research opportunities that relieve those barriers, and execution of that method to identify high-value research. The technical assessment included expert interviews and a broad literature review across the three major groups and seven technology and strategy subgroups. Professionals from the industry provided guidance to the project team, and public input was solicited through a series of open workshops. These sources helped identify market barriers to DER deployment, potential research opportunities to address the barriers, and metrics to assess progress. The prioritization factors included benefit to ratepayers, technical impact, market scalability and alignment with policy goals. The project resulted in 41 prioritized recommendations across the seven technology and strategy subgroups to guide the CEC in developing research solicitations in the short, medium, and long term. Major research themes across the roadmap include using DER to improve grid resiliency, enabling proactive DER participation as a primary option in planning and operations, and development of robust public data on DER capabilities and performance.