Europe – the challenges for flexibility

Flexibility is needed on implementing a framework for demand side flexibility in Europe.
Published: Thu 07 Dec 2017

No-one is any doubt of the need for flexibility to manage a future network built on variable renewable generation, prosumers and electric vehicles.

But how do the various players – utilities, aggregators and consumers – play together in what in an uncertain landscape?

Clean Energy Package

In Europe, it is early days and the ‘rules of engagement’ are being developed. These involve various layers from the EC level down to national regulators and the players themselves.

So far, some countries such as France and the UK have gained experience in utilising flexibility. In others, such as Spain, the market is closed to demand response.

Looking forward, the Clean Energy Package sets the scene for distribution system operator (DSO) procurement of flexibility. But the detail needs to be filled in and as they stand the proposals lack their own flexibility.

A key point in the package is the restriction on utility ownership of storage – like other new assets such as EV charging infrastructure – in the interest of building competition into the market.

From the work of USEF, we have definitions of the role of the aggregator. But an open issue is who takes on this role – an incumbent or a new player?

Another issue is around the monetising of flexibility and the business models to achieve this. All parties in the value chain will need to benefit.

Demonstrations such as the Nice Smart Valley project in France are crucial for bringing answers to some of the issues.

Cooperation is key

But there is one overarching point, mentioned to Engerati in one interview after another. Key to resolving the issues around flexibility, and key to implementing it in whatever form is finally decided, is engagement and cooperation between all the parties. And as new active players in the market, that includes consumers.

Friendly competition always achieves more than disinterested opposition.

For more on the Clean Energy Package and the role of flexibility in meeting emerging challenges, see the Engerati Quarterly magazine.

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