distributed energy resources

How is Adopting the Cloud Driving the Distributed Energy Resources Towards a Bright Future?

The world is moving towards a greener and cleaner future with the three major trends driving the transformation — decarbonization, decentralization, and digitalization. Now even though decarbonization and decentralization can be done via external forces, to leverage digitization, cloud computing is a necessity.

This transformation must come from within the utilities as they keep searching for new ways of transition. DERs or Distributed Energy Resources are the most prominent link in this transformation.

DERs also help utilities get closer to the goal of achieving the Net Zero Objective, which is to reduce the CO2 emission by 45% by 2030. However, the problem with DER generation is due to the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources. Integrating different data sources can provide a better insight to help in reliable planning for solar, wind, or any other intermittent renewable energy sources.

Why Do You Need Cloud Computing for DER Integration?

Cloud computing is a service that makes computer system resources available on-demand. This makes the entire operation much more cost-effective and easier to collaborate between departments.

There are various reasons why Distributed Energy Resources can benefit from the integration with cloud-based operations.

Wide Access to Network

When software is designed for communication with a particular server, it is known as a thin client. On the other hand, thick client software comes with its own set of features. Cloud-based systems allow you to access both types using a single standard framework.

Fast Elasticity

Cloud-based solutions offer higher and less complex scalability due to the elasticity of the system. The system can automatically provision and de-provision resources according to the changes in workload. As a result, your storage and memory devices are always optimally used.

APIfication                             

APIfication is an essential process in integrating cloud computing into the DERs (Distributed Energy Resources) if you want relevant insights. This information is crucial in building the proper planning for a reliable renewable energy supply.

Cloud-based capabilities offer better integration and API management for the DERs (distributed energy resources). What’s more, you can do this at a low cost and avail of a durable storage system.

High-Performance Computing

Let’s not forget that cloud computing ensures a higher level of computing performance, which is vital for a secure system like DERs. When client data is stored in the system, providers need to ensure the highest computing capacity.

Also, cloud-based systems allow better network analysis, forecasting, and peer-to-peer trading. With the right P2P platform, consumers will have a better chance of getting the right price for renewable energy.

Analytics AI/ML

When you are dealing with intermittency in renewable energy, AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) can help. These technologies let you decode the algorithms, making the performance of the distributed energy resources predictable.

Google’s DeepMind project is leading in this aspect with its research and application. Octopus Energy in the UK works on making smart grid platforms at fair prices using innovative AI.

By being able to predict the accuracy of weather forecasts and the efficacy of solar panels and wind farms, you can create smarter grids. Cloud computing helps in this by providing a bunch of real-time insights and services like AI and ML.

Resource Pooling

When you use a multi-tenant model, like cloud applications, the architecture lets you share all of the computing resources. Sure, the user will have any control over the location of the resources. However, it will allow multiple users to utilize the same resource pool.

This is highly time and cost-saving and also better for security. In March 2022, Capgemini, the French I.T. company, announced a tie-up with Wharton’s Venture Lab to reduce the issues with energy transition and sustainability issues. This is a massive attempt to find better sustainability solutions using cloud analytics and other intelligent operations. The result can be a further expansion of the greenhouse gas reduction initiative.

IoT

One of the best parts of using cloud-based integrations for DERs (Distributed Energy Resources) is the real-time integration. With IoT services of a cloud-based system, providers can easily achieve this.

As a result, you can utilize the service via various physical devices while delivering a faster response. That is because you will gain better awareness of the situations.  

Equinix has strived to acquire four Entel data centers in Chile and Peru. The multi-million-dollar project will ensure a better corporate strategy alignment for 100% renewable energy reliance by 2030. It concerns the RE100 initiative, where most influential companies work together to make 100% renewable energy a reality.

Blockchain

One of the best things in a third-party cloud-based framework has been the arrival of blockchain technology. It is a chain of several information blocks that let you monitor any changes.

This feature is handy when making decentralized transactions. It also allows the users better control over their energy sources. Consumer energy usage data is protected with real-time updates and greater security.

The UK Government published a report in 2016 claiming that blockchain can alter the supply chains and consumer and B2B services.

One of the biggest examples of this is the WePower project in Estonia, where 100% digital energy grids are made possible on the blockchain platform. Other companies, like Power Ledger in Australia and Acciona Energy in Spain, use the sustainable development goals (SDG) framework for their energy programs.

Challenges in Integrating Cloud-Based Solutions for Power Generation Systems

Despite its many benefits, the rise in cloud-computing services raises some security concerns as well.

This design inadvertently makes it complicated to protect the systems. As a result, the cloud delivery paradigm will be affected by security and privacy. While a private cloud system may be better in terms of privacy, it would lack most of the advantages of the system.

Privacy of Data

Even though cloud-based services ensure higher security measures, the control is limited when pooling all resources. Users may find it difficult to trust such platforms as the control over the data storage is shared.

This creates a lot of uncertainty, and one has to rely entirely on the cloud provider’s assurance of maintaining security standards. Another struggle with smart grid technology is to maintain anonymity. Since privacy policies are missing, it can potentially make the personal information of the consumers available to 3rd party vendors.

Power Stealing

Apart from consumer data privacy breaches, consumer power theft is another significant concern. The data can be manipulated on a cloud-based platform by altering the communication channel on a smart meter.

This is one of the most significant security issues in smart grid integration. If the data sent to the application server from the user-side is modified, it will show incorrect usage and cost. Various technologies, like SQL injection, command injection, etc., make the web scripting on the platforms vulnerable.

Therefore, both energy and cloud service providers must enhance and ensure better security before completing the migration.

Conclusion

Integrating the cloud-based platform with smart grids can revolutionize the energy sector. With shared software interfaces, applications, and storage bases, the need for hardware will diminish. More importantly, it will allow providers to cater better to the needs of customers in real-time.

Cloud-based DERs (Distributed Energy Resources) also offer more cost-effective energy trading and fairness. However, before the transition, factors like hijacking, data loss, and insecure API interfacing needs to be addressed.

With advanced technologies, the advancement of hacking cannot be ignored either. Simple modifications in data can cause a lot of hassle for the end-users. Therefore, there must be an absolute certainty that the data will never be incorrectly handled.

Cloud-based platforms like blockchain can help with their advanced security and non-tampering features. Furthermore, the platform offers Consensus algorithms, like proof of work, proof of stake, etc.

Together, these elements ensure that your data is never compromised. The future of renewable energy is bright. With Distributed Energy Resources integrating with advanced technology like clouds, there are limitless possibilities for growth that will change the industry forever.

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