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There remains no globally agreed definition for the terms Distributed Energy Resources (DER), and Demand Response (DR) and, like many other ambiguous terms in our industry, you may be thinking so what!

Without clearly articulated and agreed definitions you run the risk of delivering an outcome that does not meet the expectation of others. Perceptions are quick to be formed and hard to change and before you know it, you have a failed program on your hands because you are delivering one thing and your major stakeholders were expecting something else.

The following are not the only definitions, but they are those most commonly referred to when I speak to industry peers or read industry papers and they provide an example of the wide range of views.

1. DR is about reducing peak demand, essentially generating negawatts (NW). When you are generating NW’s, people tend to think about behaviour-based reduction in peak demand, or they think about automation such as remotely reducing the consumption of an air conditioner.

2. DR ranges from reshaping load profiles through to dynamically adjusting demand and everything in between.

3. DER is a physical device that can feed energy into the grid, such as rooftop solar, local battery storage, and electric vehicles.

4. DER describes anything behind the meter or at the grid edge (more ambiguous buzzwords) that can produce both NegaWatts and MegaWatts. Those who define DER in this way would see DR as a component of DER.

As you can see, such a range of possible interpretations can you get you into trouble unless you clearly articulate what you and your organisation mean when talking about demand response and distributed energy resources. In some organisations I have seen DER and DR strategies run separately, and I have also seen them run as a single body of work. Both are OK, so long as the organisation has clearly articulated what they mean by these terms and the expected outcomes.

Have you clearly defined what demand response and distributed energy resources mean within your organisation?


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