Developing next generation virtual power plant
Our European research and innovation project edgeFLEX aims at further developing the concept of Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) to manage a wider range of generation and storage assets in a new way. By offering a set of fast and dynamic service-to-grid operations, the emergence of a new market for ancillary services will be enabled. The ten project partners propose a new architecture of VPPs with communications, supported by 5G, corresponding to multiple layers of dynamics, paving the way for a fully renewable energy system. With the expansion of the VPP concept to the idea of local energy communities, technical solutions are linked to societal expectations.
Reactive energy trading
One of the hurdles we, as a society, are facing is that as the number of intermittent power sources on the electrical grid is increasing, the predictability of available electrical energy decreases. This is driving the transition from consumption steering production to the opposite, production steering consumption. One way to get the most out of this phenomenon is to offer our flexibility in consumption or production to others. When there is a lack of energy in the grid, some parties would perhaps benefit more from the use of it than others would lose if they give it up. In such cases, we can all benefit with offering our energy as a flexible energy, so others can consume it instead.
For the edgeFLEX project, INEA is upgrading the concept of flexible energy trading, which was initially developed for active energy balancing, specifically voltage regulation on the distribution network. Voltage regulation is a more localized and dynamic challenge than energy balancing, where the issue can be tackled in a wider area with relatively slow dynamics.
This means that our solution for flexible energy trading is being upgraded to allow a more precise location description of the flexible energy sources and their influence on the nearby grid. The challenge of the faster dynamics requires rapid changes in production or consumption, meaning we are optimizing communication with the flexible energy-providing assets.
There is another type of energy flowing through the grid, which offers an alternative to voltage regulation on the distribution network. With the use of reactive energy injection, the grid voltage could be controlled similarly as with active energy. In theory, the injection of reactive energy into the grid affects the grid voltage, while other operational parameters stay unchanged. Same as flexible active energy trading for voltage regulation, our solution also allows flexible reactive energy trading for voltage regulation, while facing same challenges and some additional ones. For example, the production of active and reactive energy cannot be completely decoupled from each other. When an asset is producing active energy, it cannot produce an arbitrary amount of reactive energy. This, and other, challenges must be undertaken to effectively trade with both flexible energies, active and reactive.
The edgeFLEX Trial in Milano, Italy
The edgeFLEX Trial in Wunsiedel, Germany
edgeFLEX contributes to 3GPP standard
The use case for the edgePMU, the innovative implementation concept developed in edgeFLEX project, was included in the 3GPP standard. The new concept will be implemented and tested in DSO power grid network and in the laboratory with the use of a live 5G network. 3GPP technical report 22.867, which describes the edgePMU and the related edge monitoring functionality use case, is available on the following link: https://www.3gpp.org/DynaReport/22867.htm"
3GPP is a global initiative developing specifications for wireless communications. It brings together seven of the world’s leading wireless standards organizations.
Towards a new era of energy flexibility
With the increased share of renewable energy in the energy mix, causing the energy market to change, now is the time to revise the VPP concept. VPPs need to support not only the promotion of intermittent renewables (RES) but also the integration of all Distributed Energy Resources (DER) into the full scope of grid operations. Such a leap raises challenges: optimal combination of DER and RES in a new generation of VPPs is needed to jointly provide grid supportive flexibility with slow reaction time known from day-head and intra-day markets, as well as real-time reaction to provide fast frequency and inertial response and dynamic-phasor driven voltage control ancillary services. In a nutshell, in a DER-based power electronics-driven network VPPs need to play all the roles that synchronous machines play in a traditional system.
Flexibility can be provided by going beyond electrochemical storage and exploring opportunities offered by Power2X or inverters. Demand Side Management or low-cost solutions such as Power-to-Heat could be deployed in a neighbourhood expanding the concept of VPPs to the concept of a Local Energy Communities (LECs). edgeFLEX links technical solutions to societal expectations. Short reaction times can be addressed by 5G-powered edge clouds linking dispersed devices in near real-time. In this respect, a new concept of VPPs, with communications corresponding to multiple layers of dynamics, becomes possible. edgeFLEX proposes a new architecture for VPPs deploying such a multi-layer solution, paving the way for a fully renewable energy system. VPPs are brought to a new level, enabling them to interact on markets offering various ancillary services to system operators. edgeFLEX develops this next generation VPP concept and demonstrates it in the context of three field trials and accompanying laboratory tests. The project explores innovative optimisations, financial tools and business scenarios for VPPs and assesses the economic and societal impact. The consortium actively works on removing barriers by contributing to standards and European level regulation.
Ericsson is one of the leading providers of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to service providers. Ericsson enables the full value of connectivity by creating game-changing technology and services that are easy to use, adopt, and scale, making our customers successful in a fully connected world.
ALPIQ DIGITAL AG
Alpiq Digital is in the business of enabling the transition to the renewable energy landscape of the future. The focus of Alpiq Digital is on delivering services and solutions for managing and deploying RES assets, both from an operational and financial point of view. We target the entire value chain, from consumers to producers with complex prosumers which are our main focus.
B.A.U.M CONSULT GMBH
B.A.U.M. Consult GmbH supports enterprises, municipalities, regions and governmental institutions throughout Germany and abroad with consultancy and training on sustainable development. As a knowledge management company, B.A.U.M. understands its role as a link between research, development, production and marketing of sustainable products and services.
CENTRUL ROMAN AL ENERGETIKA
The Romanian Energy Centre (CRE) is a non-governmental organisation representing state-owned as well as private companies and enterprises operating in the Romanian energy sector. The main objective of the Romanian Energy Centre is to ensure a favourable environment for boosting competitiveness and developing the Romanian energy sector.
INEA INFORMATIZACIJA ENERGETIKA AVTOMATIZACIJA D.O.O.
Inea is the leading company in Slovenia in the field of energy management solutions, industrial automation, process computer control and manufacturing informatics. Inea develops, installs and supports industrial energy management and control systems. Its major interests lie in the areas of efficient energy use, CHP implementation and development and implementation of energy monitoring and targeting systems.
RHEINISCH-WESTFAELISCHE TECHNISCHE HOCHSCHULE AACHEN
As one of the Universities in Germany awarded the status of "Excellence University", RWTH Aachen is a leading technical university in Germany and Europe. RWTH joins the project with the E.ON Energy Research Centre, Institute for Automation of Complex Power Systems (ACS) which fosters innovative energy research with a strong link with industry in an interdisciplinary approach.
SWW WUNSIEDEL GMBH
SWW Wunsiedel GmbH is a modern, innovative and future-oriented municipal utility company. SWW is responsible for electricity, gas, water, heating and telecommunication supply. SWW and its subordinated service companies have been focussing on the consistent production, use and expansion of renewable energy and sustainable technologies for years.
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND
UCD is Ireland’s largest teaching and research institution and its leading international university. Underpinned by its strategy for internationalisation, UCD is putting in place high-end research collaborations and partnerships and is the leader in Energy Research in Ireland. At UCD, researchers are working to find solutions to the energy and environment challenges of the 21st century.
ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - UNIVERSITA DI BOLOGNA
Almost 1000 years old, the University of Bologna (UNIBO) is known as the oldest University of the western world. Nowadays, UNIBO remains one of the most important institutions of higher education across Europe and the second largest university in Italy with 11 Schools, 33 Departments and about 87.000 students; it is organised in a multi-campus structure with 5 operating sites (Bologna, Cesena, Forlì, Ravenna and Rimini), and, since 1998, also a permanent headquarter in Buenos Aires.
WATERFORD INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
WIT is the major provider of higher education in the South East region of Ireland and one of the largest Institutes of Technology's in Ireland. WIT hosts the Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG), which is an internationally recognized centre of excellence for ICT research and innovation.