Varentec

Transformer on pole

Project Summary Information

Project Title

Distributed Dynamic Voltage/VAR Control and Monitoring of Distribution Feeders

Amount Funded

$366,500

Project Collaborator(s)

GE Digital Energy

LDC Collaborator(s)

Hydro One Networks Inc.; London Hydro Inc.; Entegrus Inc.; Enwin Utilities Ltd.

Location(s)

San Jose, California; London, Ontario, Chatham, Ontario, Windsor, Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Markham, Ontario

Project Objective

This project will demonstrate the ability of the ENGO (Edge of Network Grid Optimization) solution to achieve distributed Voltage and Reactive Power (VAR) control and improve dynamic voltage on electric distribution feeder lines. Ontario’s distribution grid is progressively experiencing high levels of distributed generation, which can lead to voltage variability that conventional equipment cannot mitigate.

The ENGO solution utilizes Smart Power Node hardware units installed on the secondary (low voltage) side of distribution transformers to control voltage at the point of issue. Eighty to 100 ENGO units will be installed on live feeders followed by one year of data collection. During the data collection phase, the impact will be assessed and a pathway identified to enhance electric grid control and help the grid absorb distributed generation.

Company Background

Varentec, headquartered in San Jose, CA offers electric utilities a set of new de-centralized solutions to control the electric distribution grid network. Varentec’s unique approach employs grid hardware with monitoring and data analysis to complement existing centralized command and control equipment that utilities use to control the grid. Varentec fills a major gap in grid control capability due to the arrival of distributed generation and a greater emphasis on demand management and energy conservation. Varentec is funded by Khosla Ventures, a leading green technology financial organization and Bill Gates. Varentec has over 400 hardware units installed at over 10 different electric utilities in four countries.

Worker in cherry picker

Benefit(s) to Ontario Residents and Businesses

  • Improve control on the electricity grid at the customer location.
  • Improve grid conditions and allow grid operators to deliver more efficient power to consumers or businesses along a feeder line.
  • Support higher levels of distributed generation by stablizing grid voltages and allow residential or business customers the continued option to install distributed generation systems.
  • Improve quality of power to residences and businesses by reducing voltage dynamics.
  • Enable demand management and/or energy conservation for LDC’s and avoid expensive peak energy costs.

Project Collaborators

GE Digital Energy will provide engineering advisory services.

Hydro One will provide electric utility planning, standards and analysis services.

London Hydro, Entegrus and Enwin will all provide electric grid facilities to host the pilot and provide engineering support.

Project Status

The project agreement documents were completed in August of 2014, with plans for first unit testing to take place in September of 2014, along with completion of project test plans and documentation.

By December of 2014 the goal is to have the pilot units installed in the field, assuming weather does not create delays, at which time data collection will commence.

Three months after installation is complete, estimated at March of 2015, the first reports summarizing data observations will be provided, followed by quarterly reports through the end of 2015. A final commercialization report is to be provided in 2016.

Opportunities

This project has enabled a first time project collaboration between GE Digital Energy and Varentec, in the area of Distribution Automation. Further, this project has enabled a unique collaboration between four LDCs to explore and validate the potential of distributed grid control.

Related Documents

Varentec is the recipient of the 2013 Utility Technology Challenge, 2013 Greentech Media Innovation Award and Best Distribution Automation Solution, Global Cleantech 100 Award. Varentec is also the recipient of $2.2M from the United States Department of Energy for Advanced Volt VAR Control, and $5M for Advanced Power Router technology.