Ecogrid EU, part 1: A smart grid that integrates IT, OT and energy markets

Published: Tue 07 Jan 2014
A blog entry by Smart Grid Watch

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Work is proceeding on EcoGrid EU, an innovative smart grid pilot project on the Danish island of Bornholm, just southwest of Sweden. This project, which involves partners from all over Europe, is about much more than installing controllers and integrating renewable energy. In the big picture, Ecogrid is about creating flexibility to help energy markets operate more efficiently -- a core business concern for utilities in Europe and elsewhere.

A 10 December IEEE Tech Insider webinar offered an overview of how this project is integrating information technology (IT: controllers, communications, etc.) with operational technology (OT: utility asset/grid management, energy markets etc.), while also connecting the demonstration smart grid to the mainland power grid. It also covered challenges and opportunities with recruiting participants, installing equipment, and clarifying the value of the smart grid.

Almost all 2,000 Ecogrid EU participants have been recruited -- including 1900 residential customers and 100 small-medium businesses. This represents nearly one in 10 energy users on the island.

Participating residences are equipped with demand response devices and appliances which use gateways and smart controllers to control electric heating, water heaters, battery storage and heat pumps. This enables flexible, customer-programmed, automated demand response to real-time price signals.

For business participants, the system will interface with energy management systems to control HVAC, water heating, electric vehicle charging, etc. In some cases, certain industrial processes also can be safely time-shifted.

Ecogrid equipment installation is expected to be completed by mid-February 2014.

In his webinar presentation, Andreas Arendt (Siemens Smart Grid Project Manager for Ecogrid EU) explained that one goal of this project is to create a new real-time energy market for the island that lives alongside -- but is integrated with -- existing balancing and automatic control markets. The new market operates faster, setting a new energy price every five minutes. This supports the need for direct control options on a very short time scale.

All consumption is monitored by a SCADA system which measures energy consumption (and production, since considerable renewable generation is in place on Bornholm). This data is fed back into the existing real-time energy market, to create a new real time price.

The project also seeks to create smart grid business value to utilities by aggregating different kinds of loads. This portfolio mix can be optimized by the utility and traded on the Ecogrid market, with direct connection to the wider EU markets.

Maja Bendtsen, Head of Projects for Østkraft (the Danish utility based in Bornholm, which is in charge of Ecogrid EU), explained that integrating renewable energy onto the power grid is a huge challenge for Denmark.

Currently Denmark gets nearly one third of its power from renewable energy -- and expects renewables to comprise half or more of the country's energy supply by 2020. Smart grid technology is crucial for accommodating the intermittency of renewables, as well as managing power quality issues.

WATCH NOW: Archived webinar from 10 Dec: Integrating Information Technology with Operational Technology in the Smart Grid: The EcoGrid EU Launch

Also, see Andreas Arendt's answers to questions posed by webinar participants, at the bottom of this updated Smart Grid Watch post about the webinar.


See part 2: Lessons from EcoGrid EU on how to engage customers via the smart grid