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Grid interaction + Advanced Controls [Nexus Newsletter #106]

Grid interaction + Advanced Controls [Nexus Newsletter #106]

Hey friends,

As you have probably seen in the last few newsletters, for the last six weeks of the year, we’re exploring my top trends, lessons learned, and lightbulb moments of the year.

Here’s where we headed and where we've been:

  1. “Green” → ESG (and the carbon flywheel)
  2. Reporting → Retrofits
  3. “You can’t build the app store before you build the iPhone”
  4. Last Week: Moving interoperability up the stack and the true value of the Independent Data Layer
  5. Today: The emergence and synergy of advanced supervisory control and grid interaction
  6. Look around: workforce issues are everywhere

We’re onto 2021 trend #5: The emergence and synergy of advanced supervisory control and grid interaction

That’s a mouthful! Bare with me—it’s really the combination of two trends in one. Let’s unpack them in turn.

Minitrend #1: The monetization of grid flexibility

It’s early days, but electric utility markets are starting to value and compensate building owners for managing their demand more intelligently.

Aggregation startups started to take off this year—they form virtual power plants by aggregating lots of buildings together and selling their collective demand reduction in the capacity markets. They can then share that monetized flexibility with their customers, the building owners.

👉 Go deeper: Recurve CEO Matt Golden on the Nexus podcast

👉 👉 Go even deeper: How FERC order 2222 will accelerate this trend in the US (Pro members only)

Minitrend #2: The proliferation of open, smart thermostats

We at Nexus Labs are bullish on advanced supervisory controls (ASC). Today’s supervisory software layer hasn’t evolved in 30 years and just won’t cut it moving forward. James nerded out so much on this topic that he even wrote a 3-part deep dive on it (Pro members only).

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While ASC for big buildings hasn’t quite made it mainstream yet, we still think the future will include a software layer that orchestrates all loads and DERs based on many different dynamic factors.

As a leading indicator, this concept is already taking off in one part of the market: smaller buildings with simple packaged HVAC systems. You can throw an inexpensive smart thermostat on there, connect it to an ASC software provider via API, and you’re ready to go.

So what do you get if you combine minitrends 1 and 2? The ability to use advanced supervisory control of thermostats to provide and monetize grid services. That’s what took off this year, and we expect this concept to expand beyond HVAC and into bigger and bigger buildings.

👉 Go deeper: James McGinniss of David Energy, Cisco DeVries of OhmConnect, and Dana Guernsey of Voltus discuss this trend on the Nexus podcast

Next week, we’ll close out this series with a final trend: workforce issues are everywhere.