FlexiGrid project, which has been going on for a little bit more than one year, is advancing fast. Most recently, EMAX, a digital innovation partner, released its peer-to-peer energy trading platform for first testing at FlexiGrid demo sites in Turkey, Bulgaria and Switzerland.
The EMAX platform called eFlex is based on blockchain, a technology which is becoming a popular solution for digital microtransactions, including the management of smart energy grids. Blockchain relies on a network of decentralised computers recording each transaction and it allows many small stakeholders to join the marketplace. It also improves security against external manipulations and cyberattacks and offers full transparency and traceability of all transactions. Additionally, it speeds ups the trading process, with transactions being immediately recorded and processed, allowing for a real-time management of the energy grid.
Tested in three demo sites
The eFlex prototype in now being tested by Distribution System Operators (DSOs) partnering in the FlexiGrid project, Turkish OEDAS Bulgarian EnergoPro and Swiss Oiken. In Turkey and Bulgaria, the DSOs focus mainly on their local energy grids to see how the platform would allow them to better manage the grid’s stability. In Switzerland, the testing includes partners at Energypolis, an academic campus shared by the HES-SO and the EPFL located in the city of Sion, which in the future will produce its own renewable energy. These partners are testing the platform from the side of flexibility services providers to see how they could trade the services they offer with DSOs.
Currently, the platform provides visualizations for the DSOs in Turkey and Bulgaria where they can see the evolution of their local energy grids congestion and availability of local flexibility assets 5 years ahead. In this way, the platform aims to help them to plan in advance how to ensure a stability of the grid and find out where they can buy flexibility services to balance energy demand on their networks.
Moreover, EMAX has created a full onboarding experience for DSOs as well as transition system operators (TSOs) to register on the platform and indicate their specific needs for grid flexibility. To match this demand, flexibility service providers, such as renewable energy generators and prosumers, can set up their profiles on the platform to submit their bids to DSOs and TSOs.
Blockchain based transactions
Once the market players indicate their needs and offering, eFlex allows them to trade flexibility services with each other. These transactions are based on blockchain, providing smart contract and smart billing solutions. Finally, thanks to the use of a blockchain ledger, transactions are communicated to the market players in real-time. This helps DSOs to immediately see how the local grid reacts to the trading and how it affects the grid congestion.
So far, the EMAX platform is a prototype, which means that the project partners operate in a testing and simulation environment. The first results from the testing indicate that the solution is working well and that it is a useful tool for the DSOs to manage the congestion and voltage constraints of the grid in a smart and efficient way. It also allows flexibility providers, such as the Swiss Energypolis, to join the energy market as an active player.
A vision of supporting DSOs all over Europe
Once the testing is completed and the platform is further improved, the goal will be to bring it to life and allow for real transactions at the FlexiGrid demo sites. In the future, the platform’s vision is to support DSOs from all over Europe to smoothly trade flexibility services on local energy markets with prosumers, TSOs and renewable energy generators, while improving the grid stability. If successful, eFlex will become a useful tool for integrating more renewables in the energy system, lowering CO2 emissions linked to the usage of electricity produced from fossil fuels, while opening the market to new players.