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Providing flexibility to the grid by enabling VPPs to offer both fast and slow dynamics control services

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EdgeFLEX (Providing flexibility to the grid by enabling VPPs to offer both fast and slow dynamics control services)

Reporting period: 2020-04-01 to 2021-09-30

With the dramatic growth of renewables, now is the time to revise the Virtual Power Plant (VPP) concept. VPPs need to support not only the promotion of intermittent Renewable Energy Sources (RES) but also the integration of all Distributed Energy Resources (DER) into the full scope of grid operations. Such a leap raises challenges: optimal combination of DER and RES in a new generation of VPPs is needed to jointly provide grid supportive flexibility with slow reaction time known from day-head and intra-day markets, as well as real-time reaction to provide fast frequency and inertial response and voltage control ancillary services. In a nutshell, in a DER-based power electronics-driven network, VPPs need to play all the roles thata similar role to synchronous machines play in a traditional system. edgeFLEX proposes a new architecture for VPPs deploying such a multi-layer solution, enabling the electrical system to cope with intermittent energy sources. VPPs are brought to a new level, enabling them to interact on markets offering ancillary services to System Operators. edgeFLEX develops this next generation VPP concept, figure 2, and demonstrates it in the context of three field trials and sets of laboratory tests, figure 3. It explores innovative optimisations, financial tools and business scenarios for VPPs and assess the economic and societal impact. It works actively to remove barriers by contributing to standards and European level regulation.

The edgeFLEX Vision
VPPs are enabled to manage a new, wider range of generation and storage assets, including those of Energy Communities, offering a set of new fast and dynamic services to grid operators. This enables the emergence of a new market for ancillary services and optimizing the role and deployment of storage as described in Figure 1.

The edgeFLEX Objectives
• To research new fast and slow dynamics ancillary services and a new market for trading to VPPs and grid operators, introducing an innovative new way to run VPPs offering increased flexibility.
• To develop competitive optimisations of the operations of VPPs with storage assets including Power2Heat and biomass reducing the need for grid re-balancing and increasing its stability.
• To develop a new sustainable investment model promoting increased investment and penetration of RES.
• To validate our services in field trials and lab tests, packaging results to prepare impact.
Summary of key achievements in the period:
• Research concepts have been developed for the edgeFLEX services and many publications based on these results have been prepared
• Services based on research concepts have been implemented and integrated into the edgeFLEX platform for use in field trials
• The edgePMU concept was developed and tested in the RWTH power lab, tests of it with 5G undertaken in the Ericsson 5G lab
• The platform architecture for the field trials has been defined and a first implementation is available
• Extensive tests of the ability of standard 5G networks to support the latency requirements of the edgeFLEX services performed under normal and poor transmission conditions (attenuation tests) and also a set of latency tests using URLLC on a prototype 5G testbed providing this service.
• Planning of field trials undertaken and installations of equipment complete with trials equipment already live
• Italian power operator (A2A) is offering its infrastructure for use in the edgeFLEX Field trials at their own expense and the trial is now live
• 4 regulatory change proposals prepared and many interactions with key stakeholders already held
• 2 successful contributions to the 3GPP SA1 standards group made (TR 22.867 Release 18: “Edge cloud driven data acquisition (edgePMU)” and “Use case of ensuring uninterrupted MTC service availability during emergencies”
• Communication and dissemination reaching our target audiences through virtual events and publications achieved, Field Trial Open Day organised in Italy as a face-to-face event and many dissemination KPIs exceed target levels
• 23 peer-reviewed publications have been prepared and published
• Business models for edgeFLEX defined
• Extensive planning of exploitation of project results has already been completed
• Progress with all project KPIs and goals on or ahead of target with full achievement of all goals expected in the second report period.
edgeFLEX addresses the objectives described above in an innovative and structured approach. We combine our technical results with recommendations on how they can be deployed to provide:
• An investment environment and new financial tools making investment in RES more attractive. This can contribute to growth in investments in RES and hence growth in the penetration of variable output RES and can create jobs in Europe in RES manufacturing and services to RES asset owners. Our approach to Green Swops, developed in the first reporting period, is already in occasional use by the APLQ trading team.
• A boarder role for VPPs enabling them to manage a wider range of variable output and dispatchable RES assets, including storage assets and small power generation plants, providing RES asset owners and VPP owners with new revenue streams increasing their interest in increasing their RES investment. This enables growth in the penetration of variable output RES and extends the flexibility which VPPs can offer to the grid by enabling them to manage a larger range of assets with a broader range of capabilities. It contributes to economic growth and new jobs in the VPP energy sector in Europe. It provides new streams of income to the new RES asset owners, improving return on the investment in RES and leading to enhancement of growth in RES investment and hence to growth of the energy sector in Europe. In our field trials in Germany, we are using the characteristics of a large battery owned by one partner (SWW) to enable another partner (ALPQ) to calculate how controlling such a battery could improve the effectiveness of their VPP operations.
• A new set of 5G-powered dynamic control services, enabling the opening of a new ancillary service market for fast and dynamic services. This enables VPPs, in their expanded role, to sell the flexibility of the fast dynamics of an expanded range of RES generation and storage assets to the grid operators to stabilise the grid. Extensive tests of 5G support for the edgeFLEX services were undertaken in the first reporting period.
• The new market enables Europe to optimise the operations of the European grid, maximising and aggregating the flexibility which can be provided by of all available assets and organising their participation in balancing markets through the new generation of VPPs. This will enable local grid balancing addressing one of the major challenges facing grid operators today to stabilise the grid. Discussions with key stakeholders on these issues began in the first reporting period.
• All RES asset owners again gain new sources of revenue, making investment in RES more attractive as the new ancillary service market for fast and dynamic services opens. Furthermore, European service providers and manufacturers gain a new market for their products and services enabling them to expand their businesses and improve their competitiveness. New markets are already being privately introduced in Nordic countries in advance of the opening of new markets to all energy sector participants.
The edgeFLEX trial sites
The edgeFLEX vision
Next generation virtual power plant