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Advanced methodology and tools taking advantage of storage and FLEXibility in transmission and distribution grid PLANning

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - FlexPlan (Advanced methodology and tools taking advantage of storage and FLEXibility in transmission and distribution grid PLANning)

Reporting period: 2021-04-01 to 2023-03-31

The increased penetration of Distributed Energy Sources (DER), especially in distribution grids, is making grid planning activities more and more complex and affected by a high level of uncertainty. Due to widespread RES and DER deployment, the generation and load scenarios upon which the cost-benefit analyses for new grid infrastructures are based are continuously and rapidly changing. As a consequence, when a new line is commissioned, the technical-economic benefits it was initially supposed to provide could prove significantly lower than expected.
Additionally, building new lines meets more and more hostility from the public opinion, which makes planning activities even longer and affected by uncertainties.
Variable flows from RES are generating a new type of intermittent congestion which can sometimes be better compensated by resorting to system flexibility: in many cases, an investment in a new line/cable would not be economically justified.
On this pathway, the FlexPlan project aims at establishing a new T&D grid planning methodology considering the opportunity to install new storage devices as well as to perform a flexible exercise of some loads located in selected grid nodes in synergy to building new lines. Local compensation of RES generation spikes could allow to reduce the amount of congestion the grid is exposed to with a less expensive and less environment-impacting intervention.
FlexPlan aimed at providing the following contributions:
• development of a new methodology and of a new toolbox optimizing T&D planning by considering the placement of new storage devices as well as the flexible exercise of some loads in selected grid nodes in synergy to traditional grid planning;
• application of this methodology to perform a grid planning analysis over six European regional cases by considering both the mid- and the long-term (2030, 2040, 2050) in one only optimization process. In addition, pan-European scenarios are run as well, in order to establish consistent border conditions for all 6 regional cases;
• elaboration of regulatory guidelines aimed at providing National Regulatory Authorities with indications on the opportune regulation to be adopted for removing all barriers to considering flexible resources as a support to grid planning and for maximizing the benefits that can be obtained with the new grid planning methodology proposed by the FlexPlan project.
During the first project period (from month M1 till M18), the whole modeling framework was set and first prototypes have been created for the two main tools (the planning tool and the pre-processor). In parallel, scenario storylines have been set for the project, pan-European scenarios were elaborated in order to provide a consistent set of border conditions for the six regional cases. Finally, a thorough analysis on the present regulation trends at EU level was carried out as a first stage towards the elaboration of the final regulatory guidelines: the current EU legislative provisions have been analyzed alongside with position papers of the main stakeholders.

During the second project perdiod (from M19 till the end of the project), the following macro-objectives were pursued and scuccesfully achieved:
• completion of the data collection for the 6 regional cases
• development of the FlexPlan toolbox (pre-processor and grid expansion planning tool) and of the open access libraries (OptimalTransmissionRouting.jl package and FlexPlan.jl package)
• simulation of the 6 regional cases and analysis of the results achieved
• elaboration of the final set of regulatory guidelines, which were illustrated to the EU stakeholders during the Final Workshop in Brussels (14.02.2023) and publicly consulted (D6.3): barriers of the present EU regulation to apply the FlexPlan methodology and how such barrier could be removed. Additionally, the theme of replicability and scalability of the FlexPlan methodology and tools was tackled too.

Deliverable D7.5 analizes exploitation prospects for the FlexPlan products under two different approaches:
• a bottom-up approach (request by the project coordinating person to all FlexPlan consortium members to formulate a statement on their intentions to reuse and further elaborate the results of FlexPlan).
• a top-down approach (analysis of the most important project macro-products) .
The new planning methodology elaborated by FlexPlan will provide T&D grid operators not only with a new more efficient methodological framework but also with a complete set of planning tools already tested on real-size cases and an evaluation the technical-economic advantages the new planning methodology could achieve based on the analysis of six real-size cases covering most of the EU region.
The FlexPlan planning toolbox (expansion planning tool + pre-processor), yet not public, is available upon request in an evaluation version (D3.3). Additionally, the developers remain available to discuss with SOs and other stakeholders possible customization requests in case the new tool meets their interest.
Typical external utilizers should be System Operators (SOs) and other European stakeholders. A specific task was devoted to study an ergonomic graphic user interface, in order to foresee a working approach similar to that used by SOs.
On top of the FlexPlan toolbox, and additionally with respect to what foreseen by the Grant Agreement, a set of two open access libraries were also published on GitHub and can be freely downloaded by everybody. These libraries replicate all the main functionalities of the grid expansion tool (but not those of the pre-processor and not the graphic user interface) and constitute the ideal software for performing planning studies using the FlexPlan methodology. The typical users for these libraries should be R&D Centres and Universities.
On their side, National Regulatory Authorities could take profit of the Regulatory Guidelines which were elaborated in the final stage of the project in order to draw a complete analysis of barriers and enablers of the new planning methodology as well as a suggestion of the most efficient regulatory framework to implement it in the most efficient way.
Storage resources owners and flexible loads could elaborate new business cases taking profit of the opportunities opened by the new planning methodology.
Additionally, an enhanced availability of flexibility resources in strategic network nodes can contribute to increase the maximum level of penetration of RES, thus contributing to system decarbonization.
All customers could profit of lower infrastructure investment costs, resulting in a reduction of their electricity bill.

Deliverable D7.6 was dedicated to an in-depth impact assessment analysis of the FlexPlan methodology. Three regulatory context were analyzed, including:
● the status quo regulation,
● status quo plus long-term mechanisms,
● long-term mechanisms plus a real-time-markets reform creating new products for flexibile resources.
For each of the three regulatory frameworks, a complete impact analysis is carried out by highlighting the following aspects:
● reference regulatory context,
● advantages and drawbacks of the FlexPlan methodology,
● barriers in applying the FlexPlan methodology,
● enabling factors to overcome the barriers,
● final recommendations.