rid edge is an evolving term
but today, generally refers to
the numerous technologies
between the grid and the demand
side. Driven by renewables and dis-
tributed energy resources (DERs), it
is an area where, arguably, the great-
est activity in the electricity sector is
taking place.
Certainly all grid edge technolo-
gies are essential in realising the en-
ergy transition but there are three el-
ements that are seen as key.
Maxine Ghavi, Head of Grid edge
Solutions at Hitachi ABB Power
Grids, commented: “In terms of spe-
cic technologies there are three
key areas that we focus on and be-
lieve are key enablers of the grid
edge. First, is power – battery stor-
age, for example. Next is automation
for exibility applications: how
you optimise the asset; how you max-
imise its value; how you manage the
different types and increasing num-
ber of DERs. And third, is digital:
things such as data analytics and ar-
ticial intelligence, and applications,
especially the cloud applications –
these have an impact from a technol-
ogy perspective and also have an im-
pact on the economics of an asset
and maximising its performance.”
These three components not only
help the grid operators and utilities
to address the challenges they are
seeing on the network as a result of
more renewables and DERs, but also
help them to maximise customer val-
ue, improve customer retention and
create new business opportunities.
“As you bring on more renewables
you need a much more exible sys-
tem, so exibility is key. And as you
bring on more assets, the next level
is optimisation,” she noted. “To have
exibility and optimisation, you can-
not look at any single challenge in
silo because you are now part of a
much bigger network.
This means that as renewables and
DERs grow, a much more complete
view of the electricity system is
needed. Ghavi explained: “Grid edge
technologies can be what happens at
the edge of the grid, what can hap-
pen behind the utility meter, or in
front of the meter. But because of the
way the transition is happening,
what happens behind the meter can
no longer stay behind the meter;
what happens at the edge can no lon-
ger stay there, so there has to be a
much more holistic view of looking
at the grid infrastructure and the ca-
pabilities we need to enable.”
While this does not call for a fun-
damental change in grid edge tech-
nologies in the near to medium term,
Ghavi believes existing technologies
will likely need to evolve and ex-
pand. “The physical assets layer is
going to become more complicated.
Today when we talk about electric
vehicles, the penetration is still very
small. And when you talk about en-
ergy storage and the global deploy-
ment of renewables, it’s still small.
But as those physical assets continue
to build up, the challenges will in-
crease. Plus you also have a growing
number of prosumers at the residen-
tial and commercial/industrial levels
making the system more dynamic,”
she said.
“So as this complexity increases, a
more comprehensive approach to
solving those problems becomes
more necessary. The power, automa-
tion and digital capabilities not only
help to address the challenges in the
network but also help utilities and
grid operators realise new business
Looking at power specically,
Ghavi says the true value of grid
edge technologies such as smart bat-
teries, automation and energy man-
agement, however, is not necessarily
recognised if each of the enablers are
taken in isolation. It is when they are
integrated that the new possibilities
are realised.
Ghavi noted: “When solar was
[rst] deployed, it was about install-
ing it for self-consumption, and sell-
ing excess back to the grid. That has
evolved, especially when you bring
storage into play.”
She pointed to a project, which Hi-
tachi ABB Power Grids executed in
collaboration with Skagerak Energi
at Skagerak Arena in Skien, Norway,
as a good example of how grid edge
technologies such as solar and smart
batteries are being stacked to offer
new possibilities. The arena is home
to Odds football club, which initially
had the idea to use the roof of its sta-
dium “for something useful”. The
idea grew into a project that has seen
the soccer club become the greenest
soccer club in Europe.
As part of the ‘Skagerak Energi-
lab’, the entire rooftop of the stadi-
um was covered with 5700 m
of so-
lar modules, with a nominal power
of 800 kWp. An 800 kW/1MWh
PowerStore battery and energy man-
agement system ensures maximum
use of renewable power even when
there is low light to power the stadi-
um’s oodlights. But the soccer club
has gone further. It is combining its
solar and storage technology with a
microgrid to participate in the elec-
tricity market. And in addition to
providing the neighbourhood with
electricity, the project also allows
Skagerak Energi to collect insights
into how a prosumer system – where
consumers both produce and con-
sume electricity – operates under dif-
ferent conditions.
Ghavi added that the project is
also set up to use EVs in vehicle-to-
grid (V2G) applications. “It’s about
taking that value stacking to the next
level,” she said. With EV charging
becoming more of a requirement,
she also noted that this also has an
impact on the electricity system’s
complexity and reliability.
“Utilities are evolving and looking
at ways to retain customers by en-
abling services. But as the grid infra-
structure becomes more complex,
the expectation is that they still pro-
vide the same reliability and resilien-
cy. This is where exibility comes
in,” said Ghavi.
She cited the Energy Storage for
Commercial Renewables Integra-
tion, South Australia (ESCRI-SA)
Project, which the company execut-
ed for ElectraNet. Here the deploy-
ment of a PowerStore battery and e-
mesh control system reduced
outages from eight hours down to
30 minutes in the rst six months of
operation. It also improved network
reliability, reduced renewables cur-
tailment and lowered operating
If utilities are to accelerate the de-
ployment of these grid edge solu-
tions, continued policy support will
be crucial. Ghavi believes energy
storage is a game-changer – even
though it is no longer seen as a new
component – and says that the recog-
nition it is now beginning to receive
from policymakers will be “really
She said: “Deregulation of electric-
ity markets and increased penetra-
tion of variable renewables creates
an environment that is prime for the
accelerated deployment of storage.
So there has to be enabling policies
for both deregulation and renew-
ables. There also has to be enabling
policies that recognise storage as a
network asset that utilities can de-
ploy and leverage.”
Although the approach to policy
and the uptake of grid edge technol-
ogies varies from country to coun-
try, all are generally travelling in
the same direction. “Some are mov-
ing faster than others,” said Ghavi.
“Part of that is due to their local dy-
namics and needs, and the challeng-
es they are facing.”
Using the UK as an example, she
explained: “The UK is leading the
way in the energy transition be-
cause if you look at the increased
penetration of renewables, the UK
is doing fantastic. And there is a de-
regulated electricity market. This
has created a perfect environment
where a lot of companies – whether
technology companies, utilities or
service providers – see the UK as a
huge opportunity.”
North America and Australia were
cited as other examples where, al-
though the dynamics and grid infra-
structures are different, market de-
regulation and renewables are
driving storage.
Looking forward, Ghavi said that
while the energy sector will contin-
ue to build on existing solutions to
address the challenges and opportu-
nities of the energy transition, there
will be further innovation in the
grid edge space, especially in other
“If you look at the electrication of
transport because of EVs, the electri-
cation of industry driven by heating
and process conversion, and the
electrication of buildings, they will
require additional innovation,” said
Ghavi. “There will also be additional
innovation around energy optimisa-
tion and digital. It’s about the future
being electric and this is nally be-
ing recognised. And as these three
sectors are electried and converge,
they will drive innovation in the
overall power systems.”
“There will also be innovation in
storage media, where technologies
that have been around for a long
time could become economically
viable in the mid- to long-term. But
no matter what is deployed in terms
of physical assets, things that we
are working on – for example in our
e-mesh portfolio and e-mesh appli-
cations – will still be relevant to
technologies that are coming down
the pipe.”
The move from centralised systems to a more decentralised set-up calls for innovation at the grid edge – where the
energy supply side, the grid, meets the demand side. Junior Isles speaks to Hitachi ABB Power Grid’s
Maxine Ghavi about what the key developments will be in the near to mid-term and the challenges that remain.
Developing the edge
Industry Perspective
Ghavi: It’s about the future
being electric and this is
nally being recognised