ESI in Practice

Ecogy Energy is currently a finalist in the Department of Energy’s Plug and Play DER Challenge aimed at identifying and implementing Grid Modernization strategies. The Open ESI follows a first principles approach that deals with time, location, energy and money. The technology stack leverages JSON, MQTT and ProtocolBuffers to ensure high performance and backwards compatibility.

ESI definition from DOE

Given the communication importance in the modern grid, the communication interface between the Grid and any DER has been generalized as an Energy Services Interface (ESI)

“An ESI is a bi-directional, [service-orientated], logical interface that supports the secure communication of information between entities inside and entities outside of a customer boundary to facilitate various energy interactions between electrical loads, storage, and generation within customer facilities and external entities.”

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Energy Services Interface (ESI)

The ESI is a standardized/open interface between DERs and Utilities. When an ESI is implemented it creates:

1. An ecosystem that supports interoperability through device level plugins, making it easy for customers with DER devices to interconnect and participate to the grid

2. Outeroperablity by creating a standard data interface on which a Utility can create a market and interface to DER

3. A prerequisite for any true Transactive Energy Market at the distribution level

4. A clear line at the point of common coupling between utilities and the customer

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Why is an ESI important

The state of the current grid is similar to that of Internet in 1972.

The original ARPANET grew into the Internet and was based on the idea that there would be multiple independent networks of rather arbitrary design, beginning with the ARPANET as the pioneering packet switching network, but soon to include packet satellite networks, ground-based packet radio networks and other networks that were not interoperable and siloed from each other.

Does this sound familiar?

With a lot of hard work, in 1980’s TCP/IP, the standard and open protocol at the base of our modern internet, was introduced and began to be adopted, Culminating with many vendors coming together to ensure their competing product’s interoperated under this protocol.

Is this the future we want for our electric grid?

If this path was not taken, we would be living in a world where there is a Mac internet network, an IBM internet network, etc. and communication is siloed by vendor.

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