Creating A More Open Interconnected Grid Architecture- NiceGrid’s Experiences

There is a need for grid control architectures to move towards a new layered architecture interconnecting devices within the grid perimeter.
Published: Tue 26 May 2015

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There is a growing need to leave behind the centralised, one-way grid system and its production-heavy methods of load management in favour of an open, interconnected architecture in which balance is achieved through interaction with new distributed energy resources through load-shedding and storage solutions.

The need for open interconnected architectures

We asked Laurent Schmitt, Vice President, Smart Grid Solutions, who will be co-presenting in Engerati’s upcoming webinar, Alstom Grid, Build your Microgrid learning from the NiceGrid experience, what is driving this need. He explained that the progressive penetration of distributed energy resources – whether active demand responsive resources, distributed renewables and distributed storage – raises two integration challenges: one towards their integration into wholesale energy markets and their contribution to the balancing of large country level system; and on the other end, towards their integration with the management of distribution grids and the potential risk/opportunity they represent to improve distribution operation (voltage optimization) as well as distribution resiliency (possible islanded systems).

“As a result, current grid control architectures must evolve towards new layered architecture interconnecting devices within the grid perimeter as well as behind the meter. Hence the need for more open interconnected architectures,” explains Schmitt.

The need to improve that integration is accelerating while some grid areas such as the Nordics, Ireland and French islands, are reaching their distributed energy resource absorption capability.

During the webinar, co-presenter. Thomas Drizard, an ERDF NiceGrid Project engineer, will share first hand experiences of this move to a new interconnected architecture. Headed by ERDF, NiceGrid is the first European smart solar district demonstration project and is part of the Grid4EU programme, which aims to test innovative electricity management solutions. Using the smart management system, the network operator controls and optimizes all local energy resources for the solar district in real time. The balancing of demand and supply will be discussed in detail during the webinar.

New distributed energy resources-achieving a balance

The main benefits for grid operators would be to achieve a balanced investment before needed capital expenditure investment in wires for further distributed energy resource integration and new flexibility options arising from demand response and storage. This raises the question on what should be the revenue models across market participants (DER operators/aggregators), TSOs and DSOs.

These solutions also bring new options to achieve a higher level of resiliency in critical grid areas exposed to severe weather conditions and particularly sensitive end-users.

On the customer side, these solutions bring with them a new potential revenue stream as well as further insight into energy efficiency, as well as their environmental footprint. Ultimately these approaches will allow them to audit their carbon footprint efficiency from wells to their specific usages.

But, this grid transformation will not be without its challenges. Schmitt says that these lie in the fundamental need to redefine actors’ roles, regulation and technical architectures.

“NiceGrid project is particularly focused on that last element with the intention to demonstrate an operating live IT environment across real market participants (EDF), grid operators (RTE, ERDF) and end users with distributed energy resources (including storage and demand response). The live system demonstrates that IT technology is not a roadblock to these new systems.”

Interconnecting technologies and market actors

While the transformation can be very complex, Schmitt says that it is important to interconnect the significant number of technologies and market actors.

Experiences from NiceGrid show that there is a need to focus on the targeted use case while tying the end to end chain of actors. This offers very interesting forums to tune the complexity of underlying regulations, as well as many points that need to be introduced in new grid codes whether transmission or distribution! This appears to be a very pragmatic way to move forward successfully.”

“Efforts have started on other projects to expand concepts out of NiceGrid (for instance SmartGrid Vendee in France). While it is important to consider end to end system of system IT platform (as conceptualized in Nice), it is also important to work alongside regulators for faster returns towards new regulations.”

To join the live webinar and participate in the open Q&A with ERDF on first returns from NiceGrid new automation architectures, register here.