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Easy Connections Assessment Portal

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - eCAP (Easy Connections Assessment Portal)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2015-10-31

eCAP is an innovative power network planning and analysis tool for self-assessment of network capacity for DG connection. eCAP provides Distributed Generation (DG) developers with the ability to analyse the viability of conventional and ANM grid connections prior to making a connection application. DG Developers are able to choose a Point of Connection (PoC) in the network and receive an estimate of the available network capacity based on the type of generation technology and rated capacity.
Currently, no such tool is available to support DG Developers who are forced to undertake complex studies using specific power systems analysis software and sophisticated techniques to determine the available capacity at a given PoC.
eCAP tackles this problem using a modular software solution based on original power system modelling and analysis techniques. eCAP deals with this complex problem while delivering an intuitive and straightforward interface to the users.
Figure 1 shows that eCAP is seamlessly integrated into existing power system analysis and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) of the DSOs.
eCAP has an intuitive, web-based platform for DG developers to consider the feasibility of ANM-based connections as shown in Figure 2. eCAP allows DSOs to vastly improve their customer service by identifying opportunities for ANM solutions to free a large portion of network capacity that otherwise would not be accessible. This feasibility analysis is made possible by the eCAP core curtailment computation modules that allow making good estimates of network access level for any DG network connection request. Furthermore, this flexible yet powerful modular structure allows eCAP to maintain up to date calculations following the continuous changes in the power network.

The Easy Connection Analysis Portal (eCAP) software product development project has several objectives with different levels of impact: product development and industrialization, company strategy and economic growth and wider European goals and strategy in Renewable Energy System (RES) deployment and societal impacts. eCAP aim is to move from successful proof of concept to fully developed ver1.0 product to meet proven customer demand with a future product development roadmap beyond that.
At the European level, eCAP aims at:
 Accelerating Distributed Generation (DG) expansion and in particular RES deployment, by enabling DG developers to self-assess grid connection costs, with the planning stage evaluation of the smart grid solution Active Network Management (ANM).
 Increasing social welfare, by reducing DG development and grid access costs. In light of the current regulations and market operation, this benefit is ultimately socialized by a reduction in end user tariffs.
 Contributing to a carbon neutral electricity system, by facilitating renewable DG connection self-assessment. Many inviable projects, using firm capacity, may turn into economically feasible using ANM as evaluated using eCAP.
 Promoting smart grids, by making a user-friendly planning tool available to different stakeholders. eCAP allows public engagement and ANM knowledge expansion.
Concerning Smarter Grid Solutions strategy for economic development and growth, the following objectives are set for eCAP:
 Generate enhanced commercial opportunities with DG developers and service provision to core Distribution System Operators (DSOs).
 Expanding SGS position not only as an ANM solution provider, but also as a leader in Smart Grid planning. Marketing the tools to support all stakeholders is crucial in achieving this goal.
 Growing revenues by 50% per annum, by adding eCAP to SGS products and addressing a niche but growing market.
Regarding the product development and industrialisation, the eCAP project will allow:
 Implementing software development, packaging with services and deployment models to underpin commercial releases of eCAP products.
 Performing beta testing experiences with pre
This is the first and final periodic report for eCAP. Therefore, Smarter Grid Solutions has completed the project fulfilling all the tasks that were initially foreseen.

The first task in the eCAP project assessed the markets and customer types relevant to the eCAP product. A summary of the findings is presented briefly here as this is instructive for typical markets and customers for eCAP:

• United Kingdom: This market is relatively forward thinking in terms of renewable technology and its grid integration. As an island, the UK has 4 interconnectors to Europe – France, Netherlands, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The UK imports a large volume of energy from France, taking advantage of cheap Nuclear energy, and the Netherlands link provides low cost energy during periods of high wind in Europe. The Irish interconnectors are typically used to provide energy to the Irish grid. There is a challenge placed on the System Operator to maintain security of supply across winter periods. There are suitable funding initiatives established to encourage Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) and Transmission Network Operators (TNOs) to trial new technologies and system operation strategies. UK renewable subsidies are in a transitional period which is causing great uncertainty in the market, and could slow generation development over the next few years. eCAP is in keeping with the regulatory objectives Ofgem has set and would provide support to the majority of DNOs who have indicated the desire to deploy smart solutions to their networks. Distributed Generation (DG) and Distributed Energy Resource (DER) developers will reap the benefits of eCAP but they will not be a primary target customer for eCAP as DNO network information and consent is required so the DNO is the natural host/customer for eCAP.
• Germany: The German energy act provides strong Support for renewables and this has led to an increase in the level connected at both distribution and transmission levels. However, the EEG surcharge (or renewable subsidy) has led to an increase in consumer energy bills, which is having a particular detrimental effect on low income households. The government is keen to address this issue and suggested methods include making certain consumers exempt from the charge, and re-allocating the costs in an equitable manner. The creation of smart grids could reduce the need and cost of planning transmission and distribution upgrades and improve flexibility of the grid. This could in turn reduce the cost of electricity bills by adding flexibility to the generation in the market. eCAP could be used to support the transmission and distribution planning process, and help to manage the spend. It could also be used to identify areas suitable for smart grid deployment.
• France: The French market seems difficult to navigate and due to the large reliance and long history of nuclear generation, the energy market is quite different to many others in Europe which have more readily embraced renewable technologies (although there is significant connection interest and a growing renewables base now emerging). The volume of low carbon generation in the French generation mix remains high due to the use of nuclear and hydro power as the main energy sources. The fairly recent change to the electricity market means that issues are still being ironed out and there does not appear to be a huge appetite for wind energy in France due to difficult planning regulations and public opposition. There is support in place for other forms of renewables. France does place strong incentives on the use of renewable-based heating devices, and the transmission and distribution network planning does consider renewable generation as a core part of expansion plans. The role of eCAP in this market is not clear.
• Netherlands: As with other European countries, the issue of network interconnection and congestion is important. Probably more so than the development of r
This project was fundamental in the productization of eCAP. It successfully sped up and allowed Smarter Grid Solutions to complete the product roadmap and to define the necessary structures for eCAP to be development in an independent way as a product.
eCAP successfully tackles some of the current market challenges:
• Lack of network capacity for new DER connections due to poor capacity visibility: most of the simpler spots for new connection applications have been used. The connection points left are likely to trigger a network constraint (voltage, thermal or other) or to have high connection costs.
• Poor quality of connection applications: DER developers do not know which places are best to connect new capacity and tend to try for places rich on resources (solar irradiation, wind, etc.) Most of these connection points have been saturated making these connections unfeasible. DNOs must process the connection applications regardless of its feasibility, resulting in a waste of resources.
• Lack of network capacity due to absence of network managed connections option. Conventional connections are not able to provide feasible connections points. The capacity for actively managed connections does not behave in the same way as conventional connections. Therefore, it must be studied using special methodologies.
eCAP differentiates from competition by not being a plain tool (script, or just a software) but a portal. This means that it can handle a number of databases that allow to define different type of users (with different access privileges).
Authorisation system for internal and external clients. This allows SGS to:
• Offer a portal for public use,
• define different levels of access for internal users and administrators
• Personalise the UI based on the user's characteristics.
• Possible integration with other form-based connection application systems
Also, it allows management of data such as networks, historical data, studies and other activities. Finally, it provides non-firm connections functionality by being able to provide end-to-end ANM solutions for constrained networks (as well as being easily expanded to handle additional types of studies).
Currently, there are two projects that are delivering solutions based on eCAP. One for Scottish Power Energy Networks in the UK and the other for Iberdrola USA and NYSERDA in the US.
Both UK and US regulation has added recent legislation that demands network owners provide information of available capacity to stakeholders.
In the UK, eCAP is in keeping with the objectives set by the regulator, Ofgem, and would provide support to the majority of DNOs who have indicated the desire to deploy smart solutions to their networks. DG developers will reap the benefits of eCAP however they will not be a target customer as it cannot be used without the DNO network information and consent.
In the final month of the eCAP project Smarter Grid Solutions participated on a series of stakeholder events, where the interest on web-based solutions was reiterated by DG developers and the regulator. DNOs are actively seeking for solutions to meet the regulator and developer’s needs. In early November Smarter Grid Solutions presented a booth at the LCNI conference in Liverpool, where most Great British DNOs requested more information about eCAP and were presented the eCAP demo. There are several follow up actions scheduled for the weeks to come.
In the US, New York is one of the most progressive states in terms of renewables and smart grid research. There is a focus on microgrid and resiliency of power systems. eCAP could support the drive to allow utilities to ensure microgrid operation during large power outages, by allowing developers to see the potential areas for deployment of DER or where there may be a benefit of Demand Response services. Current prospects also include selling eCAP to Georgia Power in the state of Georgia. The potential customer revealed their interest and request
eCAP: web-based platform for DG developers to consider the feasibility of ANM-based connections
eCAP brochure (main pages)
eCAP: modular software solution