Growing renewables capacity is opening up the potential for network instabilities due to intermittency while at the same time opening the potential to use the inherent flexibility in this capacity for network balancing.
Especially at the business and residential levels which has been little exploited so far, if the flexibility can be aggregated over sufficient numbers of buildings and/or homes, it can offer a viable new balancing source with economic value.
With new entrants coming into the market offering such aggregation services, there is an opportunity for a standard model, especially for use across a region such as Europe. To fill this gap the Universal Smart Energy Framework (USEF), which was developed in the Netherlands for the Dutch market, is proposed.
USEF for flexibility
The framework sets out to describe the processes and interaction between the different market roles and also addresses the contractual arrangements and agreements required to facilitate this. A key ‘new’ market role is that of the ‘aggregator’, who aggregates and optimizes automatically supply and demand in a smart energy system.
“With this model anyone could be an aggregator,” explains Jeroen Bode, USEF Project Director. “The aggregator will also need to develop contracts and products on the back of USEF for its customers.”
The flexibility commodity has been named UFLEX.
USEF under pilot
Two demonstration projects of USEF are under way by Alliander and Essent in the Netherlands. In Hoog Dalem a collaborative project in a new build all-electric neighbourhood is demonstrating the financial feasibility of smart energy applications and services to reduce the peak load on the grid through offering residents a choice of technologies to produce, store and manage energy.
In Heerhugowaard, in a collaborative project in an existing residential community of 200 houses the aim is to optimize energy use by bringing gas and electricity applications into competition with each other and providing residents with the technology to make choices about their flexible usage.
“Here Essent takes the role of aggregator to gain experience as well as supplier, and we think this makes sense as the suppliers know the market. But equally an insurance company could be an aggregator, thinking in terms of insurance products.”
Mr Bode says the demonstrations have shown the need for fast data exchange to match the pace of renewables intermittency. In addition the need for a dashboard has emerged for customers to track their market participation.
A proposed European standard
While the USEF initiative is Dutch in origin, the development partners are keen to see the framework become a European standard.
“There is a need for USEF but for it to take ground we believe it needs to be recognized as a standard,” says Mr Bode.
While the initial focus is within Europe, the USEF Foundation has also signed an MOU with the OpenADR Alliance to cooperate on the utilization of demand-side flexibility for optimization of smart energy systems. OpenADR (Automated demand response) is an open and standardized way for electricity providers and system operators to communicate DR signals with each other and with their customers, using a common language.
In the meantime interested parties can download the framework and adapt it for use for their specific requirements.