Solar Energy Glossary: Distributed Energy Resources or DER

Many U.S. residents have become interested in solar energy as a source of power for their homes and businesses today, thanks to concerns about our country’s electric utility services.

Common concerns include exorbitant rate hikes, subpar quality, unreliability and more frequent and extended power outages.

Small-scale electric generation units, or distributed energy resources (DER), make solar power a more accessible and attractive option. These power sources integrate with the existing utility grid to provide reliable, cost-effective electricity for many communities throughout the United States.

Originally, they were conceived to improve performance and efficiency in power production and distribution.

What Are Solar Distributed Energy Resources?

Conventional power generating stations are typically located within the center of a given utility’s region of coverage. To reach customers on the outer edges of the coverage area, power must be transmitted over long distances.

Distributed energy resources are supplemental generators of a sort, located much closer to where the electricity is needed. They produce and store power outside of the traditional grid. By generating power locally, DERs minimize transmission and distribution problems and offer savings to consumers.

Fuel cells, combustion turbines, wind systems, microturbines and photovoltaic panel arrays are all examples of DER projects currently being developed and used across the country.

Within the electric industry, DER systems are also referred to as distributed generation or distributed power systems, and they have been in use for many years.

Functionality of Solar Energy Distributed Generation

Distributed generation photovoltaic systems provide greater service reliability and power quality than the conventional utility grid. Depending on their location, they are often more effective and less expensive than wind systems and other types of DERs currently in use.

Within a DER zone, consumers experience reduced frequency variations in their electricity, with fewer surges and disruptions in power. Distributed resources are also a reliable source of backup power, in the event of an outage in the traditional grid.

With these resources in place, voltage dips and power disruptions are less likely, as these systems reduce the load on transmission lines and help stabilize the grid. By using DER, energy efficiency and security are strengthened.

In addition, distributed power sources can provide electricity to remote areas that traditional transmission lines don’t access.

Financial Benefits of Solar Energy DER Systems

Distributed energy resources are less expensive to construct than large, centralized power plants.

Because of this — and because it is cheaper to produce and transmit power locally — these systems provide low-cost energy to consumers. DERs also offer the benefit of peak shaving.

In other words, these systems reduce the amount of electricity consumers must buy from the utility company during peak hours when rates are higher. This results in lower demand charges from the utility. DERs provide a greater predictability of future energy costs and lower the financial risk of using photovoltaic power and other renewable energy sources.

Using photovoltaic energy has become the go-to approach for solving a variety of energy problems in the United States as well as internationally. For inividual consumers, PV panel systems can drastically reduce (or even eliminate) your monthly electric bill.

Contact the experts today at Intermountain Wind & Solar, serving residential and commercial customers in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada and Idaho. We look forward to showing you all you can achieve with solar energy.