UniGen Smart System for Renewable Integration

The UniGen Smart System software helps reduce renewable integration charges.

Onset, Inc.



Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

This project was completed in March 2019. The final report is in the publication process. This project conducted a feasibility study for the UniGen Renewable Integration platform, which allows VERs to be scheduled in the Day Ahead Market (DAM). Using the DAM, in conjunction with UniGen and VERs, allows for greater penetration of renewables and a pathway for California to meet the 60% RPS. Onset, now known as Unigen Resources, entered into a partnership with Marin Clean Energy to undertake a pilot project. This project represents the first step toward commercialization of the Unigen Smart System.

The Issue

The electric grid was designed on the presumption of a predictable and slow-moving load and the generation scheduled to serve it. Grid operators rely on an Energy Management Systems to identify deviations from the scheduled generation. After a deviation, operators make adjustments manually and wait for the adjustment to take effect (approximately 10 to 30 minutes). During this time, disruption caused by the volatility of wind and solar most likely changes the operations of the grid. This variability results in increased threats to electricity reliability and costs to California ratepayers and may limit the amount of renewable electricity generation that can be accepted by grid operations.

Project Innovation

This project developed the UniGen Smart Software System, a control software capable of reducing the volatility of energy output from a combination of variable energy resources (VER). VER generation often deviates from forecasts and schedules because of variations in weather. This can be alleviated by a fast-acting control system that automatically compensates for deviations from projected generation using a dedicated mix of energy resources (e.g., a photovoltaic system and an energy storage system). Onset's UniGen control system couples these resources with a primary power plant using proprietary algorithms in a software application in real time so that the combined output corresponds to the committed output. Any deviation is solved at the project or distributed level, making it easier for the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) to manage grid performance

Project Benefits

This project developed a software control system that can help integrate large amounts of VERs envisioned by California's energy policy (i.e., 33 percent by 2020 and 60 percent by 2030) along with current generation to create a more stable system. This software control system simplifies the CAISO's energy balancing efforts.

Lower Costs


The cost of using UniGen to couple a VER with a dedicated power plant can be substantial, up to $200 million per year for every 1000 MW of VERs. Results indicate that when using UniGen, market participants have financial incentives to schedule VERs, thereby enhancing the integration of a larger amount of renewables. The UniGen Smart System has the potential to save California ratepayers an estimated $36M a year by enabling VER to generate more energy (av

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

The software could help California achieve aggressive climate change goals by accelerating the penetration of higher levels of renewable energy sources. This project would reduce GHG emissions associated with 2 GW of Combined Cycle plants running at minimum load.

Greater Reliability


The software could help the California ISO maintain grid reliability and avoid non-compliance with NERC standards. If the controllable generation is insufficient or not timely during the afternoon peak, there is the threat that system frequency will fall below levels required by NERC. This system could assist the California ISO in real-time balancing, which should reduce the likelihood of over or under supply.

Key Project Members

Project Member

John Redding



University Enterprises, Inc.


Lifetime Energy


Strong Force


Contact the Team