Flexitranstore tackles the obstacles to network flexibility

An EU Horizon 2020 €21.7mn project hopes to answer some pressing questions confronted by technology providers as they tackle the digitalisation and decarbonisation of the electricity network.
Published: Tue 04 Jun 2019

Flexitranstore has several different elements designed to improve the flexibility and operation of the network, from testing storage technology to studying communication, markets and regulation.

Three battery storage projects will enter a test phase this summer. One is at a substation at the interface between the TSO and DSO in Cyprus and one is at a wind power plant in Greece. Another was intended to be at a CCGT plant but the planning timescales and current levels of remuneration from system services meant that testing will take place in the lab, rather than at a CCGT itself. The Flexitranstore project will also analyse business models, markets and regulation to prove investment in storage can be successful. 

The gas turbine project faced specific barriers, said Ben Bowler, business development manager at EMAX, one of the partners. Hybrid power plant operators are convinced of the potential benefits of using energy storage: it allows operators to run their power plant at a higher point, provide a larger range of remunerated ancillary services to the TSO, participate to the grid voltage and frequency stabilization, decrease maintenance costs and NOx and CO emissions. However, calculating a clear business case is complex. Project managers also came across challenges working across European borders, as there are differences in code and technical requirements from one country to the other, although batteries are not regulated specifically.  

Project participants are inviting dialogue from interested parties from all countries and sectors, he said. “We are trying to understand how to change the market and to make storage more viable and more investible, and we want to involve as many people as possible in our research. We’re looking at ways to combine revenue streams and to access new types of ancillary services that are more supportive.”

 

Another part of the project was the installation of Smart Wires mobile power flow control solution in Greece last month. The unit manages the amount of power that can flow through a transmission line. This allows utilities to increase the amount of renewable energy on their system by better utilising their existing grid. The project went from concept to commissioning in less than 18 months, which is unprecedented speed for this industry. The unit was installed in a few days, requiring less than 24 hours of total line-outage time. The TSO is very happy so far with the functionality, Bowler said.

Project managers are looking at the commercial opportunity by conducting a cost-benefit analysis for network operators. As it sits inside the network there is no traditional business model with a clear revenue stream, so innovative approaches must be explored.

The project is seeking to discover how TSOs and DSOs communicate and procure services, how they access information on the network and connect with all participants. This is in keeping with the European Commission’s vision of a common architecture including more actors and taking advantage of all assets, with the customer at the centre, said George Boultadakis, senior research consultant at European Dynamics. “It’s a good opportunity for the future of the network and for interoperability,” he said.

A simulation based on the Nordpool market platform will trial new products and ways of trading flexibility in collaboration with the Bulgarian market operator IBEX is starting in November. This should encourage aggregators, demand response and energy storage, said Boultadakis. The Flexitranstore project is also exploring ideas with the Universal Smart Energy Framework, investigating ways that the framework can be used to enhance markets across Europe to better support energy storage and innovative grid technologies.

A central part of the project is the ‘Flexible Energy Grid’, a toolbox of IT applications, databases and protocols that will improve access to network data and provide resources that allow flexibility providers to carry out real time and long term planning on the use of their assets for commercial and network benefit.

The project will run until the end of October 2021 and its full name is An Integrated Platform for Increased FLEXIbility in smart TRANSmission grids with STORage Entities and large penetration of Renewable Energy Sources.

Another project with some of the same participants which started earlier this year called Interrface will encourage TSOs and DSOs to use all resources in their network. empower the end-consumers to become active market participants, so supporting self-generation and providing demand flexibility. This will be achieved through a European grid services architecture that will act as the interface between the power system operators and the customers, allowing seamless and coordinated operation of all stakeholders of the energy market. Large scale microgrids, new network configurations, peer to peer trading, smart contracts, and innovative market platforms will be designed and demonstrated.

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