Distributed generation (DG), also known as on-site generation, distributed resources (DR), distributed energy resources (DER) or dispersed power (DP) is the use of small-scale power generation technologies located close to the load being served. The DG marketplace includes energy companies, equipment suppliers, regulators, energy users and financial and supporting companies. For some facilities, DG can lower costs, improve reliability, reduce emissions, or expand energy options. DG may also add redundancy that increases grid security.   Facilities can also recover and utilize heat from their DG systems, a practice known as combined heat and power.

DG Technologies

The portfolio of DG technologies includes reciprocating engines, microturbines, combustion turbines, small steam turbines, fuel cells, photovoltaics, and wind turbines. Each technology has varying characteristics and emission levels.

DG Applications

DG is currently being used by some customers to provide some or all of their electricity needs.  There are many different potential applications for DG technologies.  For example, some customers use DG to reduce demand charges imposed by their electric utility, while others use it to provide premium power or reduce environmental emissions.  DG can also be used by electric utilities to enhance their distribution systems. 

Most traditional DG is interconnection to the grid.  The electric power system was designed to produce electricity at large power plants in remote locations, send it over high-voltage transmission lines, and deliver it on lower-voltage utility distribution systems to passive customers. Increasingly, electricity is produced by smaller, cleaner distributed generation units at or near customer sites and connected to the utility distribution system.   The traditional one-way power flow – from power plants to customers – is turning into a two-way street.

Consulting Services Related to Distributed Generation

Since 1980, Resource Dynamics Corporation has helped clients position themselves in the distributed generation  marketplace, through evaluation of end use markets, technologies and equipment; site identification; and regulatory and feasibility studies. We have produced numerous studies that analyzed both the market and technical potential for distributed generation technologies. In addition, we have created software programs and training modules that helped stakeholders understand the applicability of distributed generation, and we have provided strategic planning and expert testimony on issues related to distributed generation.

RDC has been involved in numerous projects over the last 30 years examining distributed generation.  RDC conducted the USDOE’s first market study on micro-power applications of distributed generation in 1999.  More recently, RDC was selected by national laboratory in a competitive solicitation to support DOE’s work on opportunity fuels for distributed generation.