Some of the most prominent projects gunning to drive decarbonisation and digitalisation technologies are those funded by the 7-year Horizon Europe programme. And with some of these projects close to conclusion, their insights into a net zero scenario are sure to prove fruitful. Three DSO-focused projects in particular fit this image, investigating flexibility and interoperability as prime mechanisms for smarter energy systems.
Decarbonising the EU’s economy is inextricably linked with the electrification of high-emitting sectors. This reality means that energy system infrastructure requires smarter energy management and more flexible means of coordinating consumption.
Addressing this theme were three EU Horizon-funded projects, giving project updates during a Projects in the Spotlight event hosted by E.DSO (European Distribution System Operators), the key interface between 35 leading European DSOs and institutions.
Areti’s Platone – local flexibility markets
Rome’s DSO areti runs the Italian pilot of project Platone, a four-year project made up of 12 partners from Belgium, Germany, Greece and Italy to develop advanced energy management platforms and unlock grid flexibility.
“In the next years, the increase of the electrical loads, in urban areas, will request a new approach to manage the distribution network,” stated Gabriele Fedele, head of funded projects at areti.
In the Italian case, areti has implemented a local flexibility market to integrate DERs as a method to resolve grid issues.
“To avoid this congestion, we have two ways. One is to reinforce the grid and the other is to consider a new approach to manage infrastructure. [The latter] is the approach we selected for Platone.”
Their solution: a local flexibility market architecture enabling the DSO to acquire flexibility from DERs through a market approach.
In the project, data and signals are used in a DSO platform to locally maintain system integrity, while a blockchain-based open market platform interfaces the local system to the Transmission System Operator’s (TSO’s) domains, enhancing overall system cost and efficiency.
According to Fedele, the project has so far developed three notable platforms/developments to better enable a local flexibility market, including:
- A Light Node device, installed in the customer’s property by the DSO, enabling the consumer to participate in the flexibility market.
- A DSO technical/IT platform, for grid forecasts and flexibility management, which can “check the flexibility offer that the aggregator sends to the TSO to enable DERs to provide flexibility on the global system”.
- A shared customer database to store data on DERs. This data is then shared with active stakeholders who have been participating in the flexibility market.
“It’s very important to account for these types of alternative solutions, because [when it comes to traditionally reinforcing the grid] there are usually problems when it comes to connecting to the authorisation in some parts of the city (Rome).
“So, if we can optimise the flow on the grid, we can avoid congestion” stated Fedele, a sentiment especially true during those times of the year when peak flow is far higher than the norm.
The results of project Platone will be further tested and extended in the FLOW and BeFlexible projects, which will investigate flexibility services provided by EVs and define the coordination schemes and data exchanges in TSO-DSO interactions.
Enedis’ OneNet – flexibility management
Further on this note of interaction between DSOs and TSOs was Aleth Barlier, project manager at French DSO Enedis, who stressed that the coordination between these two entities is a key factor to consider for ensuring flexibility management and development.
Barlier spoke on the OneNet project, which Enedis is participating in alongside French TSO and parent company RTE to set up a back-office platform to simplify renewable flexibility management from order activation to curtailment compensation and to test blockchain technology.
The OneNet project’s aims are to set up a common market design for Europe, a common IT architecture and common interface, as well as large scale demonstrators to implement a scalable solution.
According to Barlier, a French demo of the project was set up to enhance settlement data traceability and sharing between TSOs, DSOs and producers on renewable activations through platform STAR (System of Traceability of Activation of Renewable).
“The STAR platform is a back-office solution, not a real time process. The goal of this is to optimise the management of renewable prediction curtailments…With this demo we provide more transparency.”
The demo consists of two use cases, stated Barlier; the first focuses on the traceability of renewable activation, while the second is about the traceability of renewable curtailment activation done manually by Enedis.
The platform is currently ongoing and OneNet is expecting user feedback later this year.
E-REDES’ InterConnect – driving interoperability
“Ensuring grid stability goes hand in hand with safeguarding user interests,” highlighted Carlos Damas Silva of Portuguese DSO E-REDES, who spoke on the InterConnect project and its outcomes from a Portuguese demo.
InterConnect is developing solutions for a digitalisation of the power system based on IoT architectures which, with the help of digital platforms and by using a universal ontology called SAREF (Smart Applications REFerence), aims to ensure interoperability between equipment and systems while preserving data privacy and cybersecurity.
Consisting of participation from 51 partners, the InterConnect project, which is entering its final of four and a half years, has started demonstrations with notable outcomes including a Semantic Interoperability Framework (SIF) and a DSO Interface.
Silva hailed the SIF as the “core development of the InterConnect project, which focuses on interoperability and communication between systems and platforms.”
To enable the SIF, the SAREF family of ontologies – which facilitates the matching of existing assets in the smart applications domain – was adopted and, “extended for other cases, such as grid management, flexibility and forecasts…which will enable cross-sector interoperability.”
A major focus of the project, stated Silva, has been the “linking on of other sectors”, enabling software solutions to be developed and adopted by platform owners, thus enabling interoperability.
“We are building on existing platforms and – assuming that these platforms will be used in the future, and most of them will be – are providing ways to increase this data sharing ecosystem.”
The second output of the project is a DSO interface, which Silva described as “the link between the interconnect project and decentralised resources, such as buildings, smart mobility and devices that are being connected to the grid.”
The interface, then, is a platform for the DSO consisting of the required information and data models that can be used to facilitate interaction between the DSO and such systems, in the aims of creating flexibility mechanisms.
Added Silva: “We are creating flexibility mechanisms and improving data sharing [between] the DSO and the general population, trying to increase observability of the grid’s lower voltages, leveraging the data from these distributed resources, such as electric vehicles, heat pumps, washing machines, dish washers and all kinds of devices that have intelligence at the edge.”
Other aims of the interface include accommodating flexibility services according to DSO needs and providing access to open and metering data.
The interface is currently being validated through several pilots in the aims of ensuring GDPR compliance and cybersecurity.