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Introducing EnergyHub’s device lab and the “Testla”

EnergyHub Team

September 27, 2023

EnergyHub’s lab brings the benefits of real-world DER testing to utilities, device partners, and the industry

EnergyHub’s Tesla Model 3 spends most of its time parked at our Burlington, Vermont office. But it’s not the kind of company car you might expect. Instead, this Tesla is one of the many distributed energy resources (DERs) that make up our device lab. 

The lab, which has been an important part of our operations since we acquired Packetized Energy in 2021, is a space dedicated to testing the real-world behavior of DERs. The lab is home to all the tools needed to study the behavior of behind-the-meter devices, helping us to accelerate innovations in flexibility program design.

Thermostats, EVSE equipment, batteries, and inverters in a test environment

The industry’s largest partner ecosystem, under one roof

The device lab’s DERs collectively act as a simulated virtual power plant, or VPP. With the exception of the Tesla (referred to fondly as the Test-la), VPP simulation takes place in the lab itself, which is equipped with numerous smart thermostats, electric vehicle chargers, batteries, heating systems, solar inverters, and other DERs that make up our partner network, the industry’s largest. 

On any given day, a visit to EnergyHub’s device lab might feature the assessment of a managed charging strategy, or the evaluation of a thermostat’s response to a peak reduction signal. These and other tests inform EnergyHub’s client-specific program designs by reconciling load flexibility objectives with device capabilities and identifying and addressing potential challenges before they arise in the real world.

A woman holding a cell phone and EVSE equipment

Simplifying DER integration

Providing utilities with load flexibility — the ability to manage electricity demand by orchestrating DER behavior — requires seamless communication between customer-owned DERs and the DER management systems (DERMS) that utilities rely on. This communication is made possible by the development of robust software integrations that allow each system to talk to the other.

“Device manufacturers and utilities all have different technological capabilities,” said   EnergyHub’s Regulatory Affairs Manager, Angela Kent. “Remote management of DERs is a newer aspect of many utility and hardware manufacturer business models, so the DERMS’ role in developing integrations to unlock that flexibility potential is critical.”

These integrations are complex but essential to building bigger and more impactful VPPs that leverage additional DER makes and models as they come online. Our lab plays a key role in enabling reliable, scaleable integrations with our partner network.

A man working on a thermostat in a lab environement

How EnergyHub’s device lab accelerates the impact of VPPs

  • Unlocking access to the majority of DERs from a single platform EnergyHub’s platform acts as the conduit between utilities and behind-the-meter devices in customers’ homes. EnergyHub’s cloud environment connects with device manufacturers’ cloud platforms, providing utilities with a single interface through which nearly all makes and models of DERs can be managed.
  • Delivering deeper, more accurate data insights Utilities have unique device visibility and reporting needs. Sometimes load management strategy evaluations or adjustments require deeper insights than mere awareness of device behavior. With the device lab, EnergyHub can determine the most appropriate methodology for collecting and communicating that data.
  • Accelerated deployment of dynamic pricing models The energy industry needs real-time dynamic pricing models to unlock the full potential of VPPs. EnergyHub’s device lab helps us understand and develop strategies for communicating customer-specific rates to DERs. These insights are critical to managing residential VPPs for core utility operations and enabling the future of grid-scale flexibility.

Maintaining a robust device lab helps EnergyHub deliver an optimal experience for our clients, their customers, and device partners. Thanks to our testing environment, we can actively troubleshoot integrations and refine DER management strategies to make programs across North America more accessible and effective.

Ultimately, our device lab is helping make residential flexibility a key part of the utility resource stack, enabling greater use of renewable energy and accelerating decarbonization. We think that’s a pretty great reason to invest in a Test-la. It’s not a bad way to get to an off-site meeting, either.

Interested in learning more? Set up a sales demo or talk to us about becoming a device partner.

The EnergyHub Tesla

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