Managing flexibility smartly

Together with the members of the association StoREgio Energiespeichersysteme e.V., Fraunhofer IESE is developing a trading platform for flexibility potentials at the distribution grid level in the project Flex4Energy.

With the increasing decentralized feed-in of fluctuating, renewable energy from wind and sun into the local and regional distribution grids, the need grows to balance deviations between generation and consumption already at the level of the distribution grids through appropriate flexibility options (option to supply or purchase energy). Such flexibility potentials can be provided via storage systems as well as via controllable loads or consumers.

Imbalances between power generation and consumption lead to voltage and frequency fluctuations in the power grid. To date, these fluctuations have been offset by the existing balancing energy markets at the level of the transmission grids. With the increasing share of renewable energy in the power supply, the need for balancing increases sharply. As the majority of renewable energy is fed in at the distribution grid level, regional balancing mechanisms can reduce the need for balancing in the transmission grid and provide relief for the transmission grids.

In the project Flex4Energy, such a balancing mechanism is being created in the form of a Cloud-based trading platform to which providers of flexibility potentials can connect via a secure communication link. A flexibility potential is created, for example, through the installation of a storage system that is not permanently used to capacity in its primary application (e.g., load peak capping or buffering of a solar power system). During its idle times, the storage system can offer its services to the trading platform. The contribution margins thus generated improve the economic feasibility of the investment in the storage system.

The central instrument of the trading platform is a flexibility manager. The flexibility manager trades the flexibility potentials offered to the platform and tries to achieve an economic optimum for the respective providers. Another major novelty is the consideration of the current grid situation in the trading strategies, which is intended to avoid the situation that energy supplies between two trading partners lead to grid bottlenecks.

A very important issue for the project is security, especially the spatial and content-related protection of the information used against unauthorized access and attacks from the outside, secure communication, and the avoidance of instable operating states. This topic area is the responsibility of Fraunhofer IESE in Kaiserslautern. Here, a comprehensive security concept is being defined in the context of the project, which takes into account the overall system, subsystems, and components in order to ensure frictionless operation.

A pilot of the trading platform in Flex4Energy is being run by HSE in Darmstadt. In addition to existing facilities, a storage system of the partner ads-tec (Nürtingen) will be offering flexibility potentials in the project. In this context, Fraunhofer ISE (Freiburg) is investigating the economic deterioration associated with the use of the storage system as a result of aging  and derives prices from this that must be achieved in order to make use of the flexibility offered. Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences is in charge of developing the trading strategies of the flexibility manager. As the consortium leader, StoREgio is responsible for the overall project management. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy and supported by Project Management Jülich. The project volume is estimated at approx. 4 million euros and is being funded with about 3 million euros.


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