How IDROP Works
IDROP is like the Solver tool in Excel, but it’s faster, more powerful, and far more comprehensive. It performs a series of forecasting, simulation, and optimization algorithms that crunch millions of data points in real time to generate optimized dispatching solutions that are mathematically guaranteed to be the lowest cost. Its solutions tell you which resources to shift, increase or decrease at 1 to 5 minute intervals, and it can project solutions for up to a two week forecast. Of course, accuracy improves as weather forecasts become more accurate. It also improves with daily downloads of your smart meter data.
More specifically, IDROP aggregates a variety of system-level inputs, such as expected loads and market prices, margins, carbon dioxide, predicted weather, etc., and marries them with customer–level energy consumption data, customer-established constraints, compliance histories, and the specific needs of the grid or at local sections of circuits. It then simulates thousands of combinations of controllable distributed resources, ranging from renewables generation (wind, solar, etc.) and grid level batteries to electric vehicles and in-home appliances in order to determine the optimal combination of choreography for these resources. For instance, IDROP might start one customer’s air conditioning a few minutes early, and hold off on starting another customer’s water heater for a couple of minutes, or charge a third customer’s electric vehicle for a pre-set 30 minute duration. In signaling these micro-level “tweaks,” IDROP optimally choreographs and schedules how and when energy is used. This leads to improved voltage, a significantly more stable overall circuit load, and an ability to actually conduct plant following (bringing plants up to their operating sweet spot faster). All of which provide significant value to the utility beyond simply the energy and ancillary markets.
Moreover, instead of sub-optimizing to only one factor or one end use (e.g. MWH cost or one home appliance), IDROP’s solutions allow multiple key parameters to be co-optimized in real time (customers’ bills, comfort, energy conservation, capital expenditures, cost of service, grid stability and peak demand). This results in optimal load shaping in the truest sense of demand-side management. And importantly, in applying your dispatching strategies across the system or collection of homes, you will realize significantly more value than if you simply allowed each home to minimize its own demand. When you adjust homes individually customers tend to notice the reductions. For example, they realize they can’t run the dryer at same time as AC. With IDROP’s broader optimizations, customers don’t notice interruptions, since you have so many loads you can optimize. Of course, you can incorporate home-by-home demand minimization as part of IDROP’s dispatching if you want, but we recommend thinking more strategically about the overall value you’d be leaving on the table in doing so.
Because IDROP’s analytics engine is uniquely able to jointly dispatch both customer end uses and distributed resources, it can dispatch combinations of resources such as electric vehicles in concert with renewable generation resources, such as solar panels or react to incoming wind. Or IDROP can adjust air conditioning duty cycles within customers’ pre-set tolerances in response to changing weather conditions that mitigate the intermittency of solar PV panels or the wind. Moreover, system planners can count on reductions and shaping of the load in firmer, geographically precise way than traditional demand response has historically delivered.
And because IDROP operates outside of normal systems you don’t have to worry about “integration risk.” Your Distribution Management System will see the improved voltage and levelized load, and then perform its own optimizations to improve circuit operations even more. Running IDROP outside of normal systems also allows you to quickly test customer offers at low cost without long-term contracts or expensive IT integrations. Plus, IDROP can run in parallel with Smart Grid systems, using the daily downloads of usage, or it can operate without any Smart Grid data, which saves on integration costs while performing customer testing and operational experimentation.