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DER threatens the traditional consumer business model

Bentley Systems has come up with OpenUtilities for distributed energy resources (DER) integration and help utilities in network design and operations. Teresa Elliott, Industry Marketing Director for Utilities, Bentley Systems, says operators can enhance their utilities network design and operations with the help of a real-time digital twin that enables sharing of data across silos.
Bentley has just announced the OpenUtilitiessolutions for DER. Can you tell us something about it?
OpenUtilities DER planning and design assessment solutions are Bentley’s latest energy infrastructure software offerings. These solutions provide decision-support and cost-based models and simulations for distributed energy resources (DER) integration. The solutions empower electric utilities, electricity suppliers and distribution network operators (DSO) to plan and design with integrated DER and to fast-track DER interconnection requests through cloud-based services to support reliability and resilience of network operations. The solution is powered by Siemens’ PSS SINCAL and includes OpenUtilities DER Optioneering, OpenUtilities Analysis, and OpenUtilities Design Optioneering.
The complete solution manages an electrical digital twin of the entire power system for electric utilities – a digital twin that enables owner-operators to more efficiently model the grid for decentralised energy without compromising safety and reliability. Some of the major challenges utilities encounter with DER integration are system complexity, changing regulatory requirements, variable customer demand and cost management. Digital twins can provide huge efficiencies in grid operations by streamlining DER interconnection applications with optimised workflows to better assess operational impacts, long-term strategic scenarios and investment decisions.
OpenUtilities DER Optioneering offers a cloud-based decision support initial screening and supplemental screening mechanism to evaluate DER interconnection requests. The software uses validation checkpoints and hosting capacity analysis to fast-track customer DER interconnection application submissions and to quickly identify submissions that require more detailed impact studies. Where detailed system impact studies are needed to ensure viability of a DER interconnection, OpenUtilities Analysis gives power system engineers a streamlined environment to perform basic studies that support non-wire alternatives. When advanced power analysis or long-term cost analysis is required, the users switch to Siemens’ PSS SINCAL to leverage advanced analysis and return on investment modules.
OpenUtilities Design Optioneering advances OpenUtilities Analysis one step further with cost-based decision support for planning  and designing complex utility networks with integrated DER. The application provides the ability to analyse both planned and existing infrastructure, optimise equipment sizing, and estimate current materials and labour costs for projects with integrated DER.
What are the other solutions in the space of electric utility software offerings?
Bentley provides electric utility solutions in an open, connected data environment to help drive grid modernisation and digitisation initiatives with intelligent and data-driven planning, through performance across the enterprise and with EPCs – facilitating delivery on the promise of safe, reliable and resilient power.
Bentley solutions help drive efficient multi-discipline workflows across generation, transmission, and distribution design projects – improving productivity, fostering collaboration, and helping teams meet project deliveries to local and national standards. Additionally, Bentley solutions help to improve the life of assets with proactive strategies for long-term asset reliability and performance, to optimize grid performance with proactive digital workflows and DER integrations, and to minimise time and cost for equipment, component inspections and maintenance with immersive digital operations.
How does OpenUtilities enable operators to more efficiently model the grid for decentralised energy?
OpenUtilities DER planning and design assessment solutions provide decision-support and cost-based models and simulations for distributed energy resources (DER) integration. On time, on-demand electrical digital twin of the entire power system enable continuous model building by integrating data sources into one master data management system and ensure data quality with integrated preprocessing that incorporates business rule validations, load flow validations and short circuit validations of the network model information. It also streamlines data cleansing with quality control workflows initiated by the automated validation handlers.
Fast and agile provisioning leads to workflow optimisation and streamlines the DER interconnection approval process by requiring less direct involvement from valuable engineering resources and expedite the interconnection request process when applicable. It also improves decision support; readily determine if further engineering analysis and studies are necessary for each application or project.
Operational efficiency and worker productivity enable non-engineers and managers to effectively manage DER interconnection applications while adhering to standardised regulatory requirements for DER permits and improve workflows and reduce manual work. Improved quality and optimised cost minimise rework and cost overruns and reduce rework in the future with improved forecasting and new feature planning.
It also helps to realise cost optimisation (improved equipment sizing minimizes risk of waste during design and construction) and enable immediate cost estimates and cost comparison during the planning process.
What are some of the ways in which operators can enhance their utilities network design and operations?
A connected data environment brings together GIS, CAD, BIM models, and operational data into a nearly real-time digital twin that encompasses both existing and proposed infrastructure information. Electric utilities can enhance their network design and operations with this nearly real-time digital twin. This enables sharing of data across silos, encourages stronger collaboration and instantiates a single source for digital twins to all applications and workflows.  
Coming to the overall power generation and distribution picture, how can utilities handle the increasing demand for DER interconnections?
The increasing demand for DER interconnections poses numerous challenges for utilities. DER threatens the traditional consumer business model; siloed departments impede the proactive workflows required to ensure reliability, and the sheer volume of DER interconnections can be overwhelming. Bentley’s DER solution helps address the last of two of these challenges. OpenUtilities DER planning and design assessment solutions help to integrate the DER interconnection process with planning and design workflows. The solution provides a stage, merge, and validation process that manages the digital twin of the entire power system and keeps it up to date. The fast track process leverages the digital twin as well as Siemens’ PSS®SINCAL technology to expedite DER interconnection applications. As a result, only a subset of application requests, those that fail the initial screening and supplemental screening, are reviewed by planners.


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