Grid flexibility has become one of the hottest topics coming out of the microgrid development space. The residential space is one of the most important asset types for utilities as they make up most of an electric provider’s customer base and when aggregated provide huge amounts of load shaping potential.
Naturally many are jumping into this space. Ranging from companies like Span promising utilities the ability to access and control homeowner breakers autonomously and bigger giants like Eaton & Sunverge who are looking to fully digitize the breaker box and provide a comprehensive DERMS + Demand Response + Intelligent Breaker solution.
This doesn’t come at any surprise that technology has come this far – however much like the early smart phones developed in the 2000s that never garnered mainstream adoption we believe the approach and application of current residential “nanogrids” aren’t going to catch on.
Homeowner’s traditionally don’t want to give up comfort and control. All current players are attempting to remove control provided by smart home devices. However, the argument the utility makes is also valid.
For grid modernization to occur utilities and electric retailers require access and deep control over individual loads within the home in order to move to a more renewable and resilient posture throughout the grid.
Grid flexibility is necessary and we see this through demand response programs in California today – but even solutions like OhmConnect which has adopted roughly 100k users haven’t achieved the market penetration required for utilities to push microgrids.
The home is the most important load to control before microgrid and larger macrogrid projects can be enabled.