The role of flexibility in local power grids

As we journey towards a greener and more sustainable energy future, the essential role of distribution grids cannot be understated. Amid the intricate dance of balancing power supply and demand, a compelling innovation emerges – the advent of Local Flexibility Markets. These markets have the potential to reshape the landscape of distribution grid management by harnessing the dynamic capabilities of flexible storage options and proactive demand management, resulting in enhanced grid stability and operational efficiency.

The balancing act extends to distribution grids

Maintaining an equilibrium between power supply and demand is an ongoing endeavor. This task has grown increasingly complex with the rise of volatile and decentralized power generation and the fluctuating nature of demand patterns. Enter the concept of flexibility markets, providing a platform for adaptive storage solutions and proactive demand management, playing a pivotal role in achieving grid stability.

The journey from transmission to distribution flexibility

Currently, flexibility markets predominantly operate within transmission grids, intricately interlinked across Scandinavia and Europe, progressively moving towards harmonization. The successful deployment of flexibility management in the transmission grid sets the stage for its gradual extension into distribution grids. This transition marks a milestone and opens a new frontier for technological innovation and collaborative efforts, with the goal of optimizing energy utilization.

Embracing renewable energy sources

The surge in electrification and the integration of renewable energy sources also bring forth possibilities and challenges for distribution grids. The increasing adoption of solar and wind energy amplifies the significance of grid stability as localized voltage fluctuations become more pronounced. Enter flexibility markets for distribution grids, a strategic answer to effectively address these challenges and harness the full potential of renewables.

Tailoring flexibility for distribution grids

The uniqueness of local flexibility markets lies in their tailored approach to distribution grids. Distribution System Operators (DSOs), responsible for delivering electricity to end-users, require a granular strategy. By tapping into local resources – from demand response by prosumers to energy storage systems and electric vehicle charging – flexibility markets optimize energy flow, alleviate congestion, and fortify grid stability at the community level.

Example: Transformative EV charging and grid flexibility

In the realm of local flexibility markets, Elywhere, in collaboration with Pratexo, exemplifies the transformative potential of innovation. Renowned for revolutionizing EV charging infrastructure, Elywhere has introduced a groundbreaking solution that merges high-capacity batteries with high-capacity EV chargers, while seamlessly having the potential to integrate green power sources like solar energy. These cutting-edge charging stations redefine high-power charging, offering multiple 150kW charging sessions without solely relying on high-power grid connectivity, making high-power charging accessible even in remote areas. This advancement aligns seamlessly with local flexibility markets, where demand for grid stability and efficient energy utilization is paramount. The solution orchestrates intelligent power distribution between the grid, local power production, and batteries, providing the flexibility benefits of both conventional EV chargers and Distributed Energy Storage systems. It can absorb and utilize energy as needed, effectively stabilizing voltage and power dynamics, fortifying demand and response, and contributing to overall grid stability. This example underscores local flexibility markets’ potential, transcending boundaries and reshaping the energy landscape through collaboration and innovation.

Dynamic Integration: Solar, Batteries, EVs & Data enrich local flexibility

Dynamic Integration: Solar, Batteries, EVs & Data enrich local flexibility

Driving forces behind Local flexibility markets

Flexibility services are gaining increasing relevance at the DSO level. Various technologies and approaches are being explored to facilitate effective local flexibility markets:

  • Integration of Prosumers: Frameworks like the Smart Electricity Exchange Platform (STEP) incentivize and regulate prosumers’ participation, fostering peer-to-peer trading and community self-sufficiency.
  • Electric Vehicle Charging: EVs can play a pivotal role in local flexibility markets. Advanced chargers with battery buffers enable a transformative scenario where EVs become responsive energy assets. These smart chargers optimize grid dynamics, adapting charge patterns based on production levels for enhanced grid stability. Future Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) adoption, where EVs work bi-directionally, further amplifies their role.
  • Energy Storage Systems: Innovative approaches, such as aggregators representing battery owners, allow energy storage systems to contribute to congestion management.
  • Peer-to-Peer Trading: Local peer-to-peer trading reduces grid costs, optimizing resource usage and achieving grid tariff savings.

How Local Flexibility Markets Work

At the heart of local flexibility markets is a dynamic orchestration of energy resources for a balanced distribution grid. These markets leverage versatile assets like energy storage systems, EV chargers, and prosumer actions, guided by DSOs.

Edge computing and AI/ML enhance this choreography. When surplus renewable energy emerges, real-time data and edge AI/ML signal assets to store or absorb energy, such as EV charging or demand response. In peak demand or stress, assets release stored energy, directed by edge AI/ML algorithms. This dance of energy, powered by cutting-edge tech, maintains grid stability, and adapts to conditions rapidly.

Edge computing and AI/ML

This fusion of edge intelligence and energy optimization reshapes grid management. Local flexibility markets, enriched by technology, embrace a decentralized approach that harnesses distributed energy resources.

The multi-faceted benefits of local flexibility

Local flexibility markets hold the promise of a streamlined transition to renewable energy sources and a more decentralized energy landscape. Beyond that, these markets bolster grid stability, strengthen the resilience of electricity distribution networks, and ensure uninterrupted energy supply, even in the face of adversity. The benefits are expansive:

  • Stability and power quality: Local flexibility becomes crucial in navigating the challenges and opportunities of growing electrification and distributed generation from renewables. The expansion of solar and wind energy adoption amplifies grid stability concerns due to localized voltage fluctuations arising from diverse demand and generation patterns. Local flexibility measures can take proactive steps in response, skillfully managing voltage fluctuations and power quality issues tied to renewable sources. This strategic approach lays the foundation for a robust and dependable grid, seamlessly integrating renewables and promoting sustainability. Additionally, these measures minimize energy losses and enhance overall grid efficiency, contributing to a more environmentally responsible energy landscape.
  • Integration of Distributed Energy Resources: Integrating distributed energy resources like solar panels, batteries, and EV chargers promises a transformative energy landscape. Yet, efficiently incorporating these resources into distribution grids requires sophisticated management due to their decentralized and variable nature. Local flexibility solutions can serve as vital enablers, seamlessly integrating and optimizing distributed energy resources. This enhances grid stability and empowers distributed energy resources as integral components of a resilient distribution network, ensuring reliable energy services.
  • Congestion Management: Flexibility mechanisms play a vital role in alleviating grid congestion by intelligently redistributing power flows and optimizing energy distribution, significantly enhancing grid efficiency. Furthermore, these flexible capacities hold power not only to alleviate temporary congestion but also to extend the lifespan of grid components and defer the need for immediate investments in infrastructure. This dual benefit not only facilitates faster connections for new customers and reduces waiting times, but also contributes to a more cost-effective and sustainable grid operation.
  • Grid Resilience: Local flexibility resources serve as valuable backups during disturbances, ensuring stable power quality and grid stability, even in isolated areas. These resources minimize critical grid situations, reducing the likelihood of shutdowns and enhancing overall grid resilience. Flexibility measures bolster grid resilience against equipment failures, extreme weather, and cyberattacks, rapidly adapting to maintain stability and dependable energy delivery.
  • Energy Transition: As the energy landscape evolves towards greater use of renewable energy sources and electrification of sectors like transportation and industry, DSOs play a critical role in enabling a smooth energy transition. Flexibility measures support the integration of these new technologies while maintaining grid stability.
  • Demand response and reliability: Flexibility at the DSO level enables the implementation of demand response programs. These programs allow DSOs to adjust electricity consumption patterns in response to supply-demand imbalances or grid constraints. By incentivizing consumers to shift their usage during peak hours, DSOs can improve grid reliability and reduce the need for expensive infrastructure upgrades.
  • Collaborative Synergy: Local flexibility markets can collaboratively operate alongside broader Transmission System Operator (TSO) solutions, fine-tuning grid operations on local and regional scales. While TSO markets handle comprehensive regional coordination and frequency compensation, local flexibility markets cater to specific and immediate grid demands. These markets adeptly address localized frequency imbalances that might not extensively impact the entire grid but can influence particular areas and support TSO’s central frequency deviation compensation efforts. Through this harmonized collaboration, local flexibility markets can contribute to optimizing grid operations across macro and micro levels.

As the canvas of our energy landscape evolves, collaboration emerges as the cornerstone of distribution flexibility markets.

It is imperative for grid companies, technology providers, power production entities, distributed energy storage and electric vehicle charging operators, along with regulatory authorities, to come together and pave the way for a transition from initiatives, tests, and pilots to a fully operational energy ecosystem.

By joining forces, these stakeholders can work towards creating innovative solutions, robust frameworks, and smart regulations that incentivize investment in local flexibility resources. Such collaborative efforts will enable the establishment of efficient and dynamic distribution flexibility markets that effectively address grid congestion, ensure stability, and maximize the integration of distributed generation. Through this alliance, a resilient, sustainable, and harmonized energy future comes within reach.