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Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-04-30

1. What is the problem/issue being addressed?

The demand for electricity in Europe’s internal market triggered a radical change project, with the latest being the negotiation of the Clean Energy Package. Europe has seen paradigm shifts on the decentralization of generation with renewable and variable electricity demand, as well as electrification of thermal and transport sectors. The result is a shift to an energy system with high levels of fluctuation in supply and much greater demand elasticity.

This brings various operational challenges for “managing electricity distribution grids in order to ensure affordability of energy, security and stability of supply”, in particular for the roughly 2,350 small and medium distribution system operators (DSO’s) that provide the link between the physics of the electricity system and the bulk of market transactions.

2. Why is it important for society?

A substantial part of the challenge emanates from the increased need for flexibility, untapped potential from (market-based) accesses to both small and large resources to avoid “massive investments in infrastructures”. This relies on active participation of smart citizens as highlighted by the EU’s energy policy package “Clean Energy for all European”. RDI initiatives have been being asked to address these challenges, among other EU priorities reflected 23 in the SET-Plan implementation actions. Although BRIDGE is covering an excellent portfolio of projects clustered in different pillars, there is still a need for integrated solutions to “allow the distribution grid to function in a secure and stable manner with large shares of variable renewables”.

3. What are the overall objectives?

The overall objectives of FLEXI-GRID are:
• To develop an integrated architecture for flexibility measures and electricity grid services provided by storage of electricity, vehicle charging, power to-heat, demand response and variable generation to enable additional decarbonisation.
• To define, test, deploy and demonstrate markets and market mechanisms that incentivise flexibility, in particular for mitigating short-term and long-term congestions or other problems in the distribution network such as voltage issues
• To drive cooperation between distribution system operators, TSOs, consumers and generators by defining market interactions, facilitating the integration of wholesale and retail markets and cross sector interactions
• To deploy smart grid technologies to enable the architecture and markets, bringing actors together to participate as distributed energy sources, driving increased resilience of the electricity grid, increased system security, greater observability, higher automation and improved control of the grid
• To enable future technical and commercial innovation by identifying barriers to innovation, developing pathways to regulatory and policy reform, developing business models, and through strategic collaboration.

The project’s geographical coverage, with four test sites in Bulgaria, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey, allows validating solutions in multiple market conditions, and ensures post project scalability, knowledge transfer, scaling and replication. The key demonstration activities include i) grid monitoring, control and flexibility intervention; ii) local energy exchanges and provision of grid services; iii) blockchain based energy exchange and provision of grid services; iv) flexibility measures and grid services provided by local energy storage, Power to Gas, Vehicle to Grid, and local renewable resources. It is the first time that small and medium size DSOs show interest to test innovative tools and solutions.

The project is strengthened by collaborating with Canada and backed by financial institutions to ensure successful commercial paths of innovative solutions.
During the first reporting period (1 November 2019 – 30 April 2021), the project activities have been carried out according to the project plan. We see some direct and some indirect effects of the pandemic, causing some minor delays that have been mitigated. Corona has also affected some planned collaboration actions. It has also affected the way we collaborate, causing some changes in how we interact and also delaying some minor actions. All work-packages have progressed their activities without any major delays. The minor delays that we do see have been checked for potential effects on other parts of the project and have had plans for mitigation put in place. We are still in an early phase of the project, with the work to keep the project on the right course in place and the demos sites starting to go live.

All routines for a successful project management are in place and both the PMO and the larger project team have come together in a positive way, to secure a successful journey together these 3.5 years. There is a delay in one task, see under WP1, which has been planned for and which has been resolved.

The work in WP 2 and 3 has come a long way to setting the foundation for the demonstration phases. There has been a great deal of interaction between these WP: s and the Demo sites, to secure a full understanding of the undertaking and what is required for a successful implementation of the strategies. Here we have also seen some minor deviations in time, which have been handled by setting a new timeline.

The work with the IoT platform, the trading platform and the Demo sites is going ahead, and the different work packages are working with each other and with the design WP: s. We are seeing minor delays that are being handled by a couple of months extension of three tasks. These delays are due to construction delays in one case and delays caused by problems in requiring necessary equipment. Current delays in data input are being handled by using dummy data until real data can be feed into the system.

A continuous process of discussing the innovation outcomes, business models and exploitation is headed by WP 9. We are stressing the importance of having these issues on the table now, even though many of the “products” are in very early stages of development. Communication about the project is ongoing, with focus on the project and its partners. The communication will now begin to focus on what is starting to happen at the Demo sites, as they now start coming online.
FLEXI-GRID will demonstrate cutting-edge technologies and innovative flexible markets enabled by advanced crossplatforms for local energy exchanges and providing flexibility to distribution system operators in order to ensure a secure, stable and affordable operations of electrical distribution grids for de-carbonising energy systems with high shares of renewables (up to and beyond 100%). By leveraging digital, smart grid technologies, IoT, blockchain, FLEXI-GRID will provide a transparent data management platform by broadcasting real-time information on the conditions of the network to optimise the observability of the grid and market functioning.
FlexiGrid Architecture
Project Structure