5 Examples of Distributed Energy Resources Explained

Examples of distributed energy resources are; microturbines, fuel cells, demand response program, electric vehicles, and battery energy storage units.

Aside the above-listed, renewable energy resources and technologies like solar panels, solar roof shingles, and wind turbines, can also be described as distributed energy resources [3].

This article discusses the examples of distributed energy resources, as follows;



1). Micro-Turbines (as one of the Examples of Distributed Energy Resources)

Micro-turbines (or microturbines) are very similar to conventional turbines in principle, but operate on a smaller scale.

These turbines represent one of the innovative developments made in the effort to increase flexibility of energy production, conversion (that is; electricity generation), and storage.

Microturbines commonly depend on non-renewable energy resources like fossil fuels, to serve as primary sources of energy which is supplied as heat through combustion.

However, they may also use renewable fuels as their primary energy source [1].

The heat produced when these fuels are burnt, is converted to electricity through a combination of thermo-mechanical processes and the electromagnetic effect.

Microturbines generally operate with low to moderate energy efficiency, so that some studies have estimated energy conversion efficiency of microturbines to fall between 20-30%, under practical conditions [2].

New developments are focused on improving performance by optimizing efficiency of these DERs, among other modifications.

Microturbines may work with microgrids for power distribution, as well as with other equipment (such as cogeneration systems) that increase energy conservation by helping to minimize the escape of waste energy.


2). Fuel Cells

A fuel cell is an electrochemical, distributed generation element or distributed energy resource, that represents the innovative integration of sustainable power generation and renewable energy technology, with the flexibility of also utilizing non-renewable energy resources.

Fuel cells are a technological step in the direction of sustainable development, and can be conveniently interconnected with other components of a distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) in most cases.

The main advantage of fuel cells is their ability to work with any of multiple energy resources, including natural gas, biofuel, and liquid hydrogen.

Because of their relative small-scale operation, it is often necessary to support the output of fuel cells with that of other power-generating units portable electric generators.

Examples of Distributed Energy Resources: Fuel Cells (Credit: Steve Jurvetson 2012 .CC BY 2.0.)
Examples of Distributed Energy Resources: Fuel Cells (Credit: Steve Jurvetson 2012 .CC BY 2.0.)



3). Demand Response Program (as one of the Examples of Distributed Energy Resources)

Demand response program is a software or artificial intelligence-based energy management functionality, that offers increased flexibility to users by enabling them measure and adjust their peak energy consumption, and thereby to conserve energy.

Aside their role in energy conservation, demand response programs are distributed energy resources that work alongside other elements of DERMS to optimize the energy production, conversion and consumption process.

Demand response programs have environmental, economic and technical benefits, and can improve the overall operation of DERMS.

They are also helpful for reducing energy waste and signify a step toward decarbonization of the power sector.


4). Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles are a prominent example of the energy transition in transport, which is a shift toward sustainable and more flexible technology.

Because of the presence of batteries for energy storage in these vehicles, they can double as distribution energy resources.

An example of the function of electric vehicles as DERs is vehicle-to-grid power transmission, where the electric vehicle serves as a source of stored energy; the excess of which is sent to the grid [4].

Aside this instance, the mere energy storage functionality of EVs, qualifies them as distributed energy resources, since they work alongside smart grids and other power systems to transfer electricity from one point in the energy supply chain, to another.

Examples of Distributed Energy Resources: Electric Vehicles (Credit: Tommaso.sansone91 2021 .CC0 1.0.)
Examples of Distributed Energy Resources: Electric Vehicles (Credit: Tommaso.sansone91 2021 .CC0 1.0.)



5). Battery Energy Storage Units (as one of the Examples of Distributed Energy Resources)

Battery energy storage is an important distributed energy resource, which plays the key role of conserving energy through storage.

Batteries are particularly useful where renewable energy resources are involved; as they can establish a fair level of stability of power supply for such renewable energy options that are are not always accessible, such as wind and solar. In such cases, batteries are often essential to prevent or reduce power fluctuations.




Examples of distributed energy resources are;

1. Micro-Turbines

2. Fuel Cells

3. Demand Response Program

4. Electric Vehicles

5. Battery Energy Storage Units




1). Iturbe-Hernández, A.; Guzmán; J. E. V.; Vicente, W.; Salinas-Vázquez, M. (2020). “Microturbine characteristics and emissions using biofuel blends.” Biofuels 13(1):1-9. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/17597269.2020.1771241. (Accessed 6 December 2022).

2). Mokhtari, M. G. B.; Gharehpetian, S.; Mousavi Agah, M. (2017). “Chapter 1 – Distributed Energy Resources.” Distributed Generation Systems Design, Operation and Grid Integration 2017, Pages 1-19. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-804208-3.00001-7. (Accessed 4 December 2022).

3). Nengroo, S. H.; Jin, H.; Lee, S. (2007). “Management of Distributed Renewable Energy Resources with the Help of a Wireless Sensor Network.” Appl. Sci. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/app12146908. (Accessed 6 December 2022).

4). Ravi, S. S.; Aziz, M. (2022). “Utilization of Electric Vehicles for Vehicle-to-Grid Services: Progress and Perspectives.” Energies 15(2):589. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/en15020589. (Accessed 6 December 2022).

5). Zangeneh, A.; Moeini-Aghtaie, M. (2022). “Scheduling and Operation of Virtual Power Plants Technical Challenges and Electricity Markets.” Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/book/9780323852678/scheduling-and-operation-of-virtual-power-plants. (Accessed 4 December 2022).

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