The Flexibility Files: an introduction to the Enlit Projects focusing on flexible grids
Last year, the EU Commission raised the climate goals for the European States and proposed a 55% cut in emissions compared to 1990 levels, by 2030. The previous target had been a reduction of 40% by the same year. The EU leaders agreed, so the new target was adopted and based on a comprehensive social, economic and environmental impact assessment. According this assessment, Europe’s course of action is both realistic and feasible and it will help us achieve climate neutrality by 2050. And as Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, noted, “With the new target to cut EU greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, we will lead the way to a cleaner planet and a green recovery”.
This is indeed an ambitious goal, but as Mark van Stiphout, Deputy Head of Unit - Research Innovation Competitiveness and Digitalisation at DG Energy - European Commission, said in an Enlit Europe 365 interview, “… by doing more, now, we can be sure that we achieve the 2050 target”. And furthermore, he adds: “of course, to achieve our goal for climate neutrality and greenhouse emission reduction, then we will need to introduce more renewables in the energy system. And these will come from the sun and the wind and they will not always be available. So, the flexibility of our energy grid is a focus for the Commission”. Which makes sense since we need to match supply and demand on a continuous basis.
In order to achieve the climate neutrality and emission reduction goals, we need solutions that will contribute to the flexibility of the energy grid. And those come from the constant research and Innovation, which the various European projects bring to the table. The EU Commission and various energy companies in Europe finance projects that have as a focus the flexibility of the energy grid. Among those concluding their cycle this year, are:
- Merlon: introduces an integrated modular local energy management framework for the holistic operational optimisation of local energy systems in presence of high shares of volatile distributed renewable energy sources.
- FLEXCoop: a fully automated solution offering tools for consumers to become prosumers and for their cooperatives to become aggregators.
- FLEXITRANSTORE: developing a next generation power system flexibility assessment platform.
- OSMOSE: Four demonstrations led by TSOs address various innovations on flexibility services and providers.
- EU-SysFlex: addresses these challenges by identifying and demonstrating new types of system and flexibility services.
Among those ending in the next couple of years – 2022 to 2023 – are:
- Platone: defining new approaches to increase the observability of renewable energy resources and of the less predictable loads while exploiting their flexibility.
- IBECOME: optimises energy performance, comfort conditions and flexibility potential within buildings and facilities.
- FLEXGRID: envisages the orchestration of advanced electricity grid models and tools, flexibility assets’ management tools, and data analytics and accurate RES forecasts.
- FEVER: demonstrates and implements solutions that leverage the potential of flexibility in generation, consumption and storage of electricity for optimal management of power grids.
- FlexPlan: establishes a new grid planning methodology considering new storage and flexibility resources as an alternative to traditional T&D grid network expansion.
- Flexigrid: aims to increase security and stability of electricity distribution systems in scenarios intensive in renewable distributed generation connected to low and medium voltage grids.
- FlexiGrid: equipping DSOs with advanced tools to enhance observability and controllability.
- ebalance-plus: aims to increase and predict the available energy flexibility of distribution grids and increase grid resilience.
- POLYPHEM: improves the performance of small-scale Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants and their flexibility to generate power on demand.
- X-Flex: aims at designing, developing, and demonstrating a set of tools that would enable the use of flexibility both on the generation and demand-side.
All these projects are fine examples of how Europe is planning to warrant the flexibility of the grid in the EU countries, as the growing shares of solar and wind power, for example, call for extra attention on the matter. Careful planning is needed to boost and guarantee flexibility, especially if we want to accommodate the large shares of renewables. And as Mark van Stiphout affirms, “the way we can create a more flexible system, a more digitalised system, a more interactive system with demand response, that, is very high on our agenda”.
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