Striving Towards Greater Network Efficiencies

The future grid network’s resilience is dependent on cost effective, sustainable and innovative management solutions.
Published: Thu 26 Nov 2015

For greater resilience and sustainability, tomorrow’s electricity network calls for cost effective and efficient solutions such as energy storage and capacity sharing. We spoke to a few industry experts in our studios at European Utility Week.

Energy storage-the renewables linchpin

Anna Carolina Tortora, Head of Innovation and Development,Terna, discusses how energy roles are changing in preparation for the energy system of the future. She says that Terna recognizes energy storage as being a major part of this transition especially when it comes to optimising renewables. Terna has just approved 75MW of storage solutions within the high voltage grid to handle congestion in the south of Italy. The transmission company has set up a laboratory to test energy storage batteries which will eventually be deployed in Sicily and Sardinia.

The biggest objectives for Terna over the next few years is to bring demand side response to Italy.

She describes energy storage as the linchpin for renewables. She adds, “No one in the energy value chain is left out when it comes to energy storage. Generators can use it for primary compensation, it enables fuel consumption optimization, provides a fast response to TSO signals efficiently and accurately, retailers use it for load shifting and customers get to save money on their bills as a result.”

Consumers are becoming environmentally aware and utilities should take the opportunity by supporting this move towards greater energy efficiency, cleaner energy, and sustainability, she says.  

Growth potential of energy storage

Steve Corwell, Vice President, Energy Storage, AES, talks about the great growth potential in Europe’s energy storage market, particularly grid scale storage.

He compares battery solutions with pumped hydro storage and says that the benefits of batteries far outweigh those of pumped hydro.  He explains that the full benefits of battery storage have yet to be harnessed or even understood by the European region. For instance, battery storage is still not being viewed as an energy generator.  

To encourage battery storage growth, regulators must identify issues and encourage ownership and provide auctions for peaking applications for instance, he recommends.

Storage will take the ceiling off renewables growth, he says. He continues by explaining that it is necessary to balance the system of tomorrow and there is no better way than to deploy fast acting storage of clean energy. It will also save money for consumers and the energy sector as a whole.”

Cost-effective and faster network resilience

Peter Lang, Senior Technology Transfer Engineer, Future Networks, UK Power Networks, discusses the importance around network resilience and capacity sharing which is what their Flexible Urban Networks LV (FUN-LV) project is all about. The project won the Industry Innovation Award at European Utility Week.  

The project’s focus is on capacity sharing between substations when deferring capital investment and it enables customers to connect to the network faster in the absence of network reinforcements.

Once UK Power Networks is able to demonstrate real power transfer, equalization between power substations, reactive power transfer and voltage support in low voltages, the company will look into high voltage or medium voltage devices.

Creating sustainable solutions

François Borghese, Prosumer Marketing Director, Schneider Electric, talks about their “prosumer demand side operation” project which won the Sustainable Development Award at European Utility Week.  

Describing Schneider as a specialist in energy efficiency, reliability, safety and automation, he says that the project’s focus is on the demand side of the smart grid. The solution enables enables the end user to participate in the smart grid by leveraging flexibility of their major electrical loads. The platform targets large commercial and industrial sites where people don’t have much time to manage their energy.

“Our platform does this for them where necessary. The platform makes decisions for them when it comes to managing their own energy consumption, generation and trading."

He adds that the solution is sustainable because it is a cloud based platform which can assimilate and analyse data quickly and accurately.  It also favours the auto consumption of local (green) energy produced and helps the utility to minimize peak periods by leveraging flexibility of various sites. It helps the end consumer save money as it guides consumers to use electricity during periods when tariffs are lower and consumers can earn money by participating in demand response programmes.