As the energy industry transitions towards a cleaner future, new smart solutions will be required to manage the increasingly variable generation mix. To maintain affordability and ensure the security of supply, energy suppliers need to leverage industry standards to help manage the growing pool of distributed energy resources (DERs). EVs can act as a decentralized energy resource and, as such, enter a broader ecosystem alongside distributed renewable generation, demand response, and energy storage, which will be crucial features of the future energy system.
Аs a charge point operator, the easiest way to participate in demand response programs is with OpenADR.

What is Demand Response?

Demand response is a system that grid operators use to ease the pressure on the grid during peak times. Demand Response (DR) actively reduces power consumption in response to grid conditions such as price, monetary incentive, or utility directives, to maintain reliable service and avoid high electricity prices. It makes the power grid more efficient and lowers the cost of providing power.

Types of Demand Response programs

Demand response is based on two main mechanisms: price-based programs, which use price signals and tariffs to motivate consumers to shift consumption, and incentive-based programs, which monetize flexibility through direct payments to consumers who shift demand in a demand-side response program. Energy suppliers and city councils are increasingly recognizing that it’s cheaper to pay customers to, at times, reduce their consumption using DR programs than building infrastructure and enough generation and transmission to support growing demand.

  • Time of use pricing: where the price of electricity is higher during peak times and lower during off-peak times.
  • Critical peak pricing: Similar to time-of-use pricing, but is based on a few peak days every year as opposed to peak times during the day.
  • Real-time pricing: where clients use wholesale prices of power, which vary depending on supply and demand and would incentivize customers to save when prices are high.
  • Capacity bidding program: offers customers in retail and wholesale markets various options to earn payments in exchange for reducing energy consumption when requested by the Utility
  • Fast DR dispatch (Fast DR)/ancillary services program: provides incentive payments to customers for load response during an Emergency Demand Response Event.
  • Residential EV Charging DR program: the cost of charging EVs is modified to shift consumption patterns.
  • Public EV charging real-time pricing program: bases the price of charging at work or public charging stations to the cost of electricity.

The Challenge with Demand Response

There is no such thing as a standardized DR program. This means each program requires significant integration efforts and is designed to fit its specific geographic region’s structural and regulatory requirements. This variability inhibits DR program expansion. Utilities need standardized templates of DR program models that can be adapted to their unique implementations to make it easier for customers to participate.

To solve this, an Open Automated Demand Response outreach collaborative was formed in October 2012, and later a related OpenADR Alliance, which standardized, automated, and simplified demand response and distributed energy resources to cost-effectively manage growing energy demand.

What is OpenADR?

OpenADR provides an open, standardized Demand Response interface that allows electricity providers to communicate DR signals directly to existing customers using a common language and existing communications such as the Internet. 

OpenADR is a message exchange protocol between two primary players: VTN and VEN. All communications are between a VTN and one or more VENs.

Virtual Top Node (VTN)

The server residing on the utility side and schedules the events

  • manages all resources
  • creates or transmits events
  • requests reports

Virtual End Node (VEN)

The client that receives the communication from the VTN

  • receives and responds to events
  • generates reports
  • controls demand-side resources

OpenADR clearly defines the expected behavior when exchanging DR event-related information. It provides energy suppliers with a standardized way to send fast, reliable, and secure price and event messages to a wide variety of customer-installed equipment such as rooftop solar, onsite energy storage, electric vehicle charging stations, and energy management systems. Furthermore, it supports communications to all distributed energy resources (DER) to manage changes in load shape, energy inputs, and power characteristics of DER assets.

What every CPO needs to know about OpenADR - As the energy industry transitions towards a cleaner future, new smart solutions will be required to manage the increasingly variable generation mix. To maintain affordability and ensure the security of supply, energy suppliers need to leverage industry standards to help manage the growing pool of distributed energy resources (DERs). EVs can act as a decentralized energy resource and, as such, enter a broader ecosystem alongside distributed renewable generation, demand response, and energy storage, which will be crucial features of the future energy system. Аs a charge point operator, the easiest way to participate in demand response programs is with OpenADR.

OpenADR 2.0 Profiles

The OpenADR Alliance has defined several profiles to accommodate a variety of different devices for varying applications.

  • The OpenADR 2.0a Profile is intended for simple devices (thermostats, electric water heaters, etc.) with limited computing and memory capacity. As utilities want to fine-tune their programs and create more complex load-shifting logic, the majority of programs will require OpenADR 2.0b.
  • The OpenADR 2.0b Profile is intended for full-service OpenADR servers and clients. OpenADR 2.0b contains an extensive list of commands. In order to be OpenADR certified, a VEN and VTN need to be able to fulfill all of them, even though the vast majority of programs will only use a subset of them.
  • The OpenADR 2.0c Profile – is intended for wholesale market communication between ISO/RTO, aggregators, and utilities but it not completed yet.

Watch the video below for an overview of OpenADR and a physical demonstration that illustrates how it works.

Benefits of OpenADR 

  • Increased grid reliability: Provides standardized DR communication and signaling infrastructure to enable utilities and aggregators to manage growing energy demand and decentralized energy production cost-effectively.
  • Mitigates peak pricing: Helps commercial and industrial customers benefit from mitigating the impact of Critical Peak Pricing (CPP) events.  
  • Tech-agnostic: Easily used with existing protocols and systems.
  • Provides customer incentives: Incentivizes customers to participate in fully automated demand response systems.  
  • Improved business flexibility: Works with a wide range of products in commercial energy management systems. 

OpenADR and EV Charging

Combining OpenADR and OCPP protocols, you can turn EVs into demand response assets that can balance the grid. One of the significant improvements in OCPP 1.6 and 2.0 is native smart charging support. When combined with smart charging, EVs are more powerful and flexible than any other end-user appliance connected to the grid. 

Whereas OpenADR is concerned with exchanging signals, OCPP focuses on control, allowing owners to monitor their charging stations remotely and authorize usage. Both protocols need to work together to achieve the ultimate goal: to help utilities create a smart charging ecosystem that can improve grid management, enhance energy efficiency, and lower deployment costs.

How to enable charging stations with OpenADR

To use charging stations in the context of OpenADR, the charge point operator must agree with a party interested in managing the stations as demand response assets. Once the conditions are settled, these are two ways to enable charging stations with OpenADR:

1. Every charging station is registered with the OpenADR Virtual Top Node server;

2. OCPP central server registers with the OpenADR Virtual Top Node (VTN) server as an OpenADR Virtual End Node (VEN) and aggregates the participating charging stations.

In the second scenario, the OCPP central server translates OpenADR event signals into valid OCPP smart charging messages and sends them to the network’s relevant charging stations. 

Let’s consider a few real-life implementations of openADR in EV charging. The OpenADR standard is ideally suited to send price signals making it easy for utilities to price electricity higher in times of power constraint. This allows customers to either delay charging when the grid is under stress or get compensated for reducing the load and charging later at a lower cost. OpenADR also enables the grid to optimize and manage the charging station’s power consumption based on changes in grid conditions or a price signal communicated via OpenADR. 

Getting started with OpenADR

It’s clear that the rise in EVs will accelerate the decarbonization of the transport sector. What’s also clear now is that EVs have the potential to become an essential part of the power system in three main ways:

  • increasing the share of renewable energy sources in the power mix.
  • storing surplus electricity produced by renewable sources
  • allowing system operators access to EV battery flexibility to ensure the balance between supply and demand at any given time

New technologies and standards will empower consumers to exploit EV flexibility. OpenADR is becoming the most common standard used by utility and wholesale market DR programs. Customers will benefit from more vendor products and opportunities to participate in multiple DR programs that will reward them for responding to power fluctuations.

AMPECO’s EV charging platform is officially OpenADR certified to enable charge point operators, especially those based in the US, to explore new applications for dynamic pricing, renewable energy integrations, and ancillary services. 

Talk to one of our EV charging experts about your company’s needs, and let us demonstrate how AMPECO’s EV charging management solution helps you achieve your goals and set you up for long-term success.

Author Picture- Sasha Kostov
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Copywriting Lead at AMPECO

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