We have continued to see Distributed Energy Resources (DER), such as wind, solar, battery storage, and electric vehicles (EVs), become a top priority over the years. But why? Renewable energy provides reliable power supplies and fuel diversification, enhancing energy security, lowering the risk of fuel spills, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
As demand for DERs grows around the world, the need for established best practices and qualified workers to integrate DERs into distribution networks increases as well. A standard developed by IEEE Standards Association (IEEE SA), IEEE 1547-2018, focuses on the interconnection and interoperability between utility electric power systems (EPSs) and distributed energy resources (DERs). The IEEE 1547 Standard equips utilities with consensus-driven requirements regarding the performance, operation, testing, safety considerations, and maintenance of the interconnection between EPSs and DERs. The standard’s most recent update addresses numerous changes related to the increased levels of solar arrays and other DERs on the grid. Given the rapid growth of DERs and renewable energy, the standard was revised to ensure applicability to the current and future DER landscape.
To promote a deeper understanding of the IEEE 1547 standard and its dynamic features for grid support, the IEEE SA’s Conformity Assessment Program (ICAP) is working with several utilities on the IEEE 1547 Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Interconnection: Education and Credentialing Program. The new education and credentialing program is being designed to focus on DER interconnection, address industry gaps, and help support the development of a more reliable and resilient grid. The program, which is scheduled to launch in late 2021 /early 2022, also aims to improve the knowledge of utility engineers, inspectors, developers and enhances the context behind field commissioning. Those who complete the training and demonstrate a competent level of understanding of the 1547 standard, how to decipher regional interconnection rules, and safe field visit practices will be eligible for IEEE certification. IEEE certification will indicate to utilities, DER developers, and owners the knowledge and competence level necessary to commission an IEEE 1547 compliant DER interconnection. This program will also deliver to the industry a standardized approach to IEEE 1547 DER Interconnection commissioning that can be adopted anywhere irrespective of DER type.
As participation in the program grows, a larger number of credentialed experts who can be leveraged for their IEEE 1547 knowledge and field assessment expertise will be available to the DER community. This could prove especially helpful with the growing number of residential sites now capable of providing grid support. Interconnections are sometimes approved solely on the basis of an application review with no on-site visit, which could be corrected with a large, credentialed workforce. Proper assessment of utility-scale DER interconnections and microgrids by a credentialed professional would ensure that the Safety and Reliability of the power system are maintained while helping accelerate progress toward a more resilient grid. Additionally, a larger pool of highly trained, qualified candidates working in DER commissioning can reduce the duration of a project and improve the quality of work and safety in the industry.
On top of improving safety in the industry, the credentialing program may create jobs and advancement opportunities for those who the COVID-19 pandemic may have impacted. Increasing the number of jobs will help revitalize the energy and manufacturing sectors and support the development of a cleaner, more efficient energy infrastructure and economy.