Electrification of society with 100 percent renewable energy calls for solutions that will allow the participants in the energy grid to microbalance the energy between themselves, alleviate grid congestion, and at the same time optimize the energy bill. FlexiGrids demo site in Bulgaria develops tools that allow consumers to participate with flexibility in the power grid.
Climate change, technological development, and electrification of many industries drive a significant change in the energy sector that will soon transform it in a much different direction than what we have today. With a continuously increasing energy consumption on one end of the grid and more renewable energy sources production on the other side, managing the grid becomes a challenging task of high importance for the energy grid operators (DSOs, distribution service operators). The DSO needs to be able to balance the grid in a timely and economically effective manner and at the same time stay stable and reliable while electricity bills for the end-users stay within reasonable boundaries. All these factors call for solutions that will allow the participants in the energy grid to microbalance the energy between themselves, alleviate grid congestion, and at the same time optimize the energy bill.
Demo site: Bulgaria
In order to microbalance the grid, the participants of the grid, ie. the consumers, prosumers, producers, battery storage, DSOs, etc, must exchange so-called energy flexibility services. This can be done through a reduced or increased energy consumption during a certain time period, alternatively through an energy provider sending energy to the grid. That in turn, will address the temporary imbalance or congestion issue in the grid. To allow for flexibility trading, a platform is currently being developed and tested in FlexiGrid’s demo case, run by the DSO Energo-Pro with support from Entra Energy in Bulgaria, in which the participants will be connected through an installed smart meter. The platform consists of two elements; the IoT platform and the flexibility trading platform Eflex, developed by SIMAVI and Emax respectively.
Flexibility trading platform
The IoT side of the platform, allows end-users to visualize their energy consumption and/or production. Whenever the DSO notices a congestion issue in the grid a flexibility offer will be posted, and the end-user can accept these and commit to providing the requested or agreed flexibility. The trading side of the platform automatically or manually if desired, matches the offers until the request is satisfied. The transaction is recorded as a smart contract and respective payments are locked and secured until the delivery is confirmed. Once matched, the IoT platform tracks if the agreed offer from the participant has been delivered to the DSO. It is important to point out that usually a single consumer, household, prosumer, or producer will not be able to fulfill the request, however, a pool can.
Profit from providing flexibility as consumer
Participation in the FlexiGrid platform is favorable in numerous ways for the end-user. First of all, as the end-user commits to flexibility trading, it allows the user to make earnings, which in the end will result in a lower electricity bill or an additional income. However, to what extent, depends on the demand for electricity and how much flexibility that can be provided. Particularly, during the peak-hour when the demand for electricity is the highest it will be reflected in higher earnings. Alongside, as the flexibility services allow the DSO to micro-balance the grid, it becomes more effective and reliable. Consequently, with a well-functioning grid, the cost will not end up on the end-user, as today the electricity price is a function of the cost to produce and transfer electricity. Moreover, as the IoT platform allows for visualization of the long-term cost and consumption, the end-user can become more aware of its usage and cause effective, by analyzing which appliances are most energy effective thus optimizing the usage. That will not only lower the electricity bills but also allow for greener and more eco-friendly consumption.
Energo-Pro and Entra Energy aim to be ready for demonstration activities in 2022. In order to in the best way demonstrate how flexibility services are going to operate in the future, pilot end-users will be connected to smart meters to monitor the energy activities in the case. The development of the flexibility trading platform will be a significant and important step that needs to be further supported by aligned regulatory and legislation changes to allow the deployment of such innovative and beneficial solutions for building the self-balancing sustainable energy grid of the future.