Talk Community - with Pim Spierenburg, Head of Smart Markets, EMEA at OMNETRIC Group

Do we have any firm answers to integrating renewables yet?

The good news is that there is a lot of focus on this topic with specialists from the demand and supply side of the energy question looking across the business, operations and data implications of what it means to integrate DER’s. The technology response is a DERMS, which can provide a single platform to manage load aggregation, storage and generation. By rationally integrating DERs into the grid via smart management systems, utilities can fully exploit their outputs, monetize them, and use them to balance demand. There are other advances too, like analytics and introducing intelligence at the edge of the grid. These technology options feed into a DRMS to potentially drive further benefits. 

What is attracting big interest is the breadth of intelligence and control these platforms enable – from integration of internal and external systems for forecasting, load balancing and scheduling, to management of aggregated distributed energy resources using virtual power plants (VPPs) to meet grid, customer and commercial needs (i.e., optimized energy trading).

Are utilities implementing DERMS?

As distributed energy resources (DERs) proliferate, so the need for technology solutions to manage that complexity grows. At OMNETRIC Group, drawing on our heritage as a Siemens and Accenture company, we are working with a number of forward looking utility clients in the US. They have recently made serious commitments to implementing distributed energy management solutions, often building on their experiences with demand response and the related systems. In Europe, adoption is currently slower, although Siemens for example is working with a European energy company to build a system that makes it possible to connect a large number of parties in distributed energy resources, such as generators, consumers (loads) and storage units, to the IT system in a way that is both suitable for the mass market and can handle multiple clients. The technology platform is being built as an energy information and control system.

Can new industry standards improve integration of renewables?

To more simply and cost effectively operate an increasingly complex and crowded grid, utilities need greater interoperability across disparate devices and systems.  In addition, for greater responsiveness, more decisions need to be made at the edge, which is only possible if there is more intelligence generated in the distribution network. These two concepts currently drive a number of industry initiatives where OMNETRIC Group plays a leading role. 

In a project with the US Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), OMNETRIC Group and partners Duke Energy, CPS Energy, the University of Texas San Antonio, are focussed on finding solutions to increasing the capacity of the grid to host renewables using microgrids. The project promotes, interoperability using open standards (developing a distributed control hierarchy based on an open field message bus, or OpenFMB architecture), and explores microgrid management techniques to increase control at the edge of the grid (using Siemens’ Microgrid Management System). 

The NREL project is now nearing completion with field demonstrations illustrating:

  • The aggregation of renewable resources into microgrids that are managed to perform predictably, 
  • Communication and interoperation with vendor equipment using standards, and 
  • The management of microgrids using intelligence deployed on a distributed architecture throughout the grid, allowing decisions to be made at the edge of the grid to deliver more timely responses to changing conditions.

This work is important, not just in the US, because DERs and microgrids are today controlled by discrete controller products that are very proprietary. Open systems and greater interoperability present a tremendous opportunity to go beyond the capabilities of the present installed base, improving performance, lowering integration costs and improving risk mitigation. This offers a technical and economic advantage to the industry.

How did you get involved in this industry and do you have any big goals?

My start in the industry was implementing new legislation for metering during the deregulation of the Dutch utility market. I then ventured into the world of meter data management (MDM) and smart metering as a solution architect, and began exploring the potential of MDM platforms for demand response and aggregating distributed energy resources (DER) for virtual power plant purposes. In my current role at OMNETRIC Group, I am responsible for the Smart Market portfolio in EMEA – I work on the cutting edge of new developments on grid end-points, developing new propositions with my team of solution architects and engineers for clients.

My big goals? When I’m not at work I harness the elements in a different way: my big goal for next year is to finish the Defi Wind in Gruissan in 2017 – the most amazing windsurfing event ever! My other big, more immediate goal is to stimulate discussion and collaboration on new exciting energy sector solutions. OMNETRIC Group is dedicated to delivering advanced solutions for a smarter grid and we believe innovation, collaboration and courage are needed to help the industry move toward a smarter, stronger, greener and more diverse energy economy faster. It’s why the company is the thought leader sponsor of EUW’s new Innovation programme for Young Talent and Startups, Initiate!.

Pim Spierenburg

As VP Smart Market EMEA within OMNETRIC he is responsible for the solution architecture of meter data management, demand response and VPP solution in Europe, Middel East and Africa. He has 12 years of Utility experience of which he mostly worked in Meter Data Management and Smart Metering. 

Prior to joining OMNETRIC ni 2014, Pim has been working as senior solution architect within Accenture Smart Grid Services for 5 years and has previously worked for Itron and CGI.

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