Developing flexibility in European electricity markets
Nearly two years into the project, our collaborative innovation work is still going strong
Flexibility markets help energy networks, which are becoming increasingly interconnected with other sectors such as e-mobility, to monitor energy flows and create market signals to motivate changes in the energy supply and demand, integrating smart meters, smart appliances, renewable energy resources and energy efficient buildings and communities. The European Commission promotes flexibility markets as they can contribute and help the EU becoming a climate-neutral continent by 2050 and is a significant part of its new legislation. Up to now, the projects and research activities in this area have been focused mainly on specific energy sources and actors, considering only a very limited and isolated part of the distribution network, while leaving aside all the opportunities existing throughout the flexibility offered by the energy value chain.
At the end of 2019, Blueprint Energy Solutions joined a consortium led by Spanish company ETRA, for a 4-year EU project called “X-FLEX” with an investment value of EUR 9.5 million. The project comprises 12 partners from six countries. Over 20 experts from Spain, Slovenia, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece and Cyprus are working on designing, developing and demonstrating a set of tools in order to integrate the emerging decentralized ecosystem of renewable energy sources and flexibility systems into the existing European energy system, involving multiple flexibility assets (batteries, power to heat/cold, vehicle to grid and other storage solutions) and all complementary actors of the energy network, with special attention to extreme weather conditions.
Working with the best
These solutions are piloted in real conditions in four pilot sites in Bulgaria, Slovenia and Greece, with different needs and socioeconomic and technological boundaries. In November 2020, Luče (Slovenia) energy community won the Energy Efficient Project recognition at the “Energy Awards 2020” organised by Slovenian newspaper Finance.
Albena (Bulgaria) holiday resort and also one of the pilots sites, has been awarded a Green Oscar for its contribution to the environment. Together with Bulgarian TSO ESO EAD they have been busy performing the manual frequency restoration reserve (mFRR) tests.
Xanthi (Greece) pilot site has been suffering from extreme weather events (EWEs) such as high winds that affect the operation of the distribution grid and together with partners from Greece - such as national electricity distribution network operator HEDNO and institute ICCS - have worked on the definition of scenarios to evaluate Xanthi’s distribution network resilience towards extreme EWEs and prepare for testing as well.
Since 2020, the pilot site Ravne na Koroškem (Slovenia) has installed a 6 MW electrode boiler in a decisive step towards the final goal of providing flexibility and ancillary services for the TSO and to optimize the combined operation of CHP units and the electrode boiler (RES Power2Heat), in an activity led by Petrol d.d.
Importance of Data Governance and Management
In the past 18 months, Blueprint team has successfully completed the formal analysis of the project requirements that includes innovative use cases to be demonstrated in these four European sites. For the X-FLEX project's purposes, each pilot site had to integrate new assets and new devices into its network. Our grid infrastructure analysis included a complete detailed analysis of each site according to preconditions for implementation so that scenarios and use cases could be implemented without limitations, barriers and obstacles. Integration of new assets and devices requires a lot of time and technical work on each pilot site's grid infrastructure. COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays in supply chains worldwide. Therefore it was of utmost importance to prepare the project for demonstration and testing that involves technical works and installation of new equipment while collecting data and preparing it for import and management in parallel: information on the different types of assets, asset's capacities, the information on communication and management protocols, and information on whether there is historical data of all assets or not, focusing on tool requirements and pathways to obtain required data to perform design algorithms. Thanks to the excellent cooperation of all pilot site partners and developers who participated in this work with us, this was completed on time and all pilot sites were validated and prepared for implementation.
In the near future, Blueprint team will present innovation activities and scientific impact of "X-FLEX project for more flexible electricity markets” at the 16th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems, which will take place in October 2021 in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement № 863927. More information available at http://xflexproject.eu/