While providing alternatives to fossil fuels, the intermittent nature of renewable energy, makes matching supply with demand difficult for power grids. Even with significant smart grids (SG) investment, the focus on the production side results in poor financial returns and inefficient power supply. The EU-funded Marie-Curie project DREAM-GO based its solution on the demand side of the energy equation. The team modelled and implemented applications for the aggregation of energy resources, consumer remuneration and Direct Load Control. Results were validated in pilot installations and a real-time simulation, which included modelling of all the SG components. The resulting short-term and real-time demand response, benefits the consumer and the overall energy system. Short-term and real-time demand response A Smart Grid is an umbrella concept which encompasses the technical, economic, and social advantages gained by the implementation of an intelligent, autonomous, decentralised, power and energy system. Currently, only a few true SGs exist in practice, mostly designed around technical solutions such as automated operations and smart metering. The economic benefits that could come from linking different elements of the system, such as consumers with the wholesale electricity market, present a significant challenge, largely due to the diversity of stakeholders and resources involved. While the social aspects, such as the active engagement of consumers, are still very much nascent. After analysing gaps in the current state of the art, DREAM-GO developed and implemented business models that gather consumption flexibility, positioning the consumer as an active player and integrating the multitude of resources in the system. Key to this was both the creation of consumer remuneration strategies and enabling the key players to interact with each other. The system operates through a customised platform, which informs consumers about real-time pricing and the sustainability impact of their energy consumption decisions. It then offers a range of solutions to take advantage of the available demand response opportunities, such as when to switch on and off the heating or use the washing machine. “We looked, for example, at energy consumption from wind and solar sources, displaying real-time electricity prices. Not surprisingly, consumers used more when prices were lower and less when higher,” says project coordinator Dr Zita Vale. “So overall operational costs were reduced, and energy prices were kept at reasonable levels, which increased the use of renewables!” Results were tested and validated in a Polytechnic of Porto, Portugal, building, involving more than 30 people interacting daily with the system. The simulation platform was also applied by DREAM-GO partners (SMEs in Portugal, Spain, and Germany, and one academic partner in the US) to additional scenarios, using data in different regulatory contexts to ensure suitability for different countries and market realities. Spreading demand response Currently, in countries where energy demand response implementation is relatively advanced, the DREAM-GO technology can already be adopted. However, in most cases, some regulatory changes would still be required, to fully take advantage of the system. “With the help of the project’s SMEs partners, we aim to make the solutions progressively available to different markets, by incorporating them in existing products until the market is ready for the full roll out,” says Dr Vale. For now, the team is working to further enhance the software and hardware components to embed them in local markets, especially residential and office buildings.
DREAM-GO, Smart Grids, renewable energy, Demand Response, power, wind, solar, consumption flexibility, consumer