Consensus is growing that the utility of the future will be a provider of energy services to its customers, particularly in liberalized markets such as Europe where the utilities are competitive and customers can switch. At the same time new entrants are also entering the market with new services.
The question is how these services can be delivered effectively and an answer can come through FLEXICIENCY, a 4-year project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, under grant agreement No 646482. The project has the goal to accelerate the provision of new services based on metering data and for that developing a European marketplace – in effect a virtual ICT environment – which will allow for standardized interactions among electricity stakeholders within and across borders.
“The aim is to demonstrate that the deployment of novel services in electricity retail markets, such as advanced monitoring, local energy control and flexibility, can be facilitated by data accessibility, provided by DSOs in real-time under customer consent,” Jon Stromsather, head of smart grid development at Enel, told Engerati in an exclusive interview. “This intention is to open up the energy market to new and existing players at EU level and accelerate the provision of new services in Europe.”
FLEXICIENCY, which was launched in February 2015 under the coordination of Enel Distribuzione, is being undertaken by a consortium of 18 partners from 10 European countries covering key competences across the electricity value chain of the electricity retail markets. [Engerati-FLEXICIENCY – New Services Coming For European Energy Customers]
The consortium includes four major DSOs (Enel Distribuzione in Italy, Endesa Distribución in Spain, ERDF in France and Vattenfall Eldistribution in Sweden), the DSO association (EDSO for Smart Grids), four large-scale retailers (Enel Energia, Endesa, Vattenfall, VERBUND Solutions GmbH) and also IT solution providers (SAP, Siemens and cyberGRID), an aggregator (KiwiPower), two research centres (CIRCE and University of Ljubljana), a public body (City of Malaga), an energy think tank (VaasaETT) and a market and demand response expert (Joule Assets).
The project comprises four complementary demonstrations run by the four DSOs with real customers, covering new services based on metering data accessibility also in real time. A fifth demonstration is run by VERBUND Solutions GmbH, a newcomer in the Austrian electricity retail market, where smart metering has not been rolled out yet.
“This will allow covering different conditions and drawing insights on existing barriers towards energy efficiency service provisions.”
In Italy the demonstration is focused on advanced energy monitoring with 5,000 LV customers and local energy control services with 500 LV customers in the area of Milan.
In France the focus is on the validation of advanced monitoring and local control (demand response) services and on the European marketplace across countries, and involves approximately 5,000 customers.
In Spain the focus is on the validation of added value services in the case of a particular consumer, i.e. the City of Malaga (a municipality), aggregating approximately 1,800 points of supply.
In Sweden the focus is on advanced energy monitoring with alerts and/or energy advice to a larger customer group and local energy control services to a smaller group in the Stockholm area, in total involving 5,000 customers.
In Austria the focus is on the provision of advanced monitoring services (where smart meters have not been deployed) and demonstration of aggregation of flexibility through simulations.
“With these demonstrations the applicability and replicability of the project solutions will thus be duly addressed under diverse regulatory contexts,” comments Mr Stromsather.
To date all the project activities for FLEXICIENCY have started, Mr Stromsather reports. In particular, project use cases and services are being defined in detail, together with the functional and non-functional requirements, the overall system architecture and the data modelling. The related deliverables are planned in early 2016.
The five demonstrations have also recently started their work in order to develop the platforms and services in coherence with the requirements and specifications defined in the project, in parallel with the development of the FLEXICIENCY EU marketplace.
An energy services marketplace
Mr Stromsather says the marketplace is aimed to catalyze the interactions between all the relevant stakeholders and to encourage cross-country and cross-player access to innovative energy services.
The marketplace will communicate in a standardized and open way with existing and new DSO and service platforms. An open common language will be set up to address standardization and service accessibility for any actor willing to provide services across different DSO networks and countries and thus needing to exchange data.
“The marketplace would act in particular as a gateway for service requests, simplifying B2B relationships between parties,” he says. “This could be the case, for example of an ESCO or a retailer willing to provide energy services in areas operated by diverse DSOs and thus needing to access the DSOs’ metering data close to real time. Physical data transfer will be performed point to point, i.e. no physical data transfer or storage will occur through the marketplace.”
In conclusion Mr Stromsather says this virtual ICT environment should foster the birth and growth of new electricity retail economic models throughout the EU28, which in turn will increase the overall electricity system flexibility while maximizing energy efficiency across the region.