At Enlit Europe 2023, the OpenADR Alliance launched the latest version of its communication standard, OpenADR 3.0. The new standard is not a complete replacement for everything in earlier versions, such as profile specifications. Instead, the OpenADR Alliance says, “It provides an additional, simplified way to add OpenADR functionalities in current, as well as different and new scenarios.”
It also goes on to say, “OpenADR 3.0 is designed to support utilities, operators, aggregators, and customers as they try to manage the growing range of distributed energy resources (DER) including renewables, energy storage, electric vehicle (EV) batteries and charging infrastructure, as well as demand response resources like commercial buildings or homes.”
According to Rolf Bienert, Managing & Technical Director for the OpenADR Alliance, “Renewable energy, along with battery storage, is providing a growing share of overall power capacity as we move towards a more sustainable energy future.
“This means that energy companies are having to manage more decentralised and distributed energy resources, scaling operations while ensuring compatibility and interoperability.
“OpenADR is critical in providing seamless communications between different devices and systems, and between utilities and customers.
“OpenADR 3.0 provides simplicity at a time when technology is becoming more complex, making energy management easier and future-proofing energy systems. It offers a new alternative using modern web service designs that are easier to use than older message style exchange formats, while also providing added functionality.”
What does this mean for utilities and customers?
The explosion in renewables outside of traditional energy companies has created a number of challenges for utility companies and customers generating their own energy. Those challenges are not just about the generation and capture of energy but also extend to how energy is consumed.
Those generating energy want to be sure that they consume what they generate before pushing excess back to the grid or taking it from the grid. They also want much more information about how and where they are consuming energy.
For utility companies, the challenge is much more complex. They face challenges such as the onboarding of new sources of supply from organisations and individuals to managing battery storage and payments, to usage of energy.
What this means in practice is that the two-way communication enabled by OpenADR will allow much more granular control of devices. We already see in some countries, utilities disabling customer’s aircon and swimming pool systems.
Now, we could see them going further and regulating the heat through smart thermostats in consumer premises. However, there are other agreements that need to be in place to make that acceptable to customers who may object to that level of remote control.
Bienert mentions batteries, which opens up an interesting use case. Users with EVs are used to pushing power to their devices overnight when energy is cheap. In the morning, however, most grids experience peaks in demand as users wake up.
Imagine being able to draw power from an EV in the morning to level out those spikes in usage. This could be controlled by the consumer or the utility. An EV could also be seen as an alternative to owners having additional battery storage, which is expensive. It will be interesting to see if OpenADR 3.0 enables this.
Device manufacturers also have a part to play
Looking at the wider ecosystem, device and equipment managers also benefit and will play their part in making this work. OpenADR 3.0 enables them to add new functionality to their products.
There is a greater challenge for utilities and customers with regard to equipment and devices. The new functionality and use cases can be added, but until the devices are widely used, the benefits will be limited. Take the UK as an example, the majority of smart meters fitted in the last few years do not allow for effective measurement of energy being sold to the grid.
Standards require testing and certification
For any standard to be effective, there is a need for all devices and solutions to be tested against the requirements of the standard. To manage this, the OpenADR Alliance has the OpenADR Alliance Certification Program.
OpenADR has announced that there will be 10 approved test facilities that will “use test assets created by the OpenADR Alliance in collaboration with other vendors.”
However, it has not announced when testing and certification will begin or how long it will take. It has also not been disclosed whether those members who have had early access to OpenADR 3.0 have participated in building the test programme.
Enterprise Times: What does this mean?
Renewables have created a massive change to the traditional energy utility landscape. Micro-generation means that grids have to change to capture and record what is generated. This latest update will enable greater digitisation and control of devices and potentially change energy models to even out spikes. What will be interesting is to see how long before OpenADR 3.0 devices are available and the rate of installation.