Electricity market liberalisation has increased competitiveness and cost-efficiency in energy production in several EU countries, thereby decreasing electricity prices. Renewable energy aggregators act as facilitators between supply and demand in the electricity market bringing small-scale production and consumption to the wholesale market, conventionally only accessible for very large producers and consumers. They do this by aggregating small generation and production units and developing energy services for industrial, commercial or domestic purposes. Aggregation of distributed electricity sources contributes to a more competitive renewable energy sector. Renewable energy business models The EU-funded BestRES project investigated current market barriers and suggested ways of improving the role of renewable energy aggregators for the future. The project involved 11 partner organisations that are active in 9 European countries. Project coordinator Silvia Caneva explains: “We wished to implement best practices already tested in various European countries to boost the integration of renewable energy into the market.” For this purpose, partners identified, reviewed and optimised 13 pioneering business models, 8 of which were implemented in real-life conditions in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Portugal and the United Kingdom (UK). These models enable energy aggregators to successfully participate in the market by combining renewable energy supply, energy storage, flexible demand and ICT technologies into a commercially viable product. At the same time, the project identified technical, market, environmental and social benefits as well as legal and regulatory barriers preventing their successful implementation. The UK model shifted the behaviour of domestic electricity consumption through a smart home device connected to a mobile application that shows the energy consumption and cost of each appliance. The implementation led to a 2 % profit in energy bills, and the model also demonstrated the potential engagement and direct interaction of the customers through a mobile application. In Austria, BestRES investigated the energy potential of operating photovoltaic plants on residential multi-dwelling buildings and how they can be exploited to the fullest. Photovoltaic plants presented increased economic value and offered the possibility of exchanging solar energy between the apartments further reducing energy supply costs and charges. In Belgium, trading of weather-dependent electricity sources such as solar PV and wind power in the different power markets was very successful. Renewable energy sources proved to be competitive alternatives leading to significant capacity expansion. The accuracy of wind and solar forecasts also improved increasing the confidence of clients. Towards a sustainable energy future “The main message we would like to put across is that renewable energy aggregation defines new opportunities for the active participation of European consumers in electricity matters,” emphasises Caneva. BestRES raised energy awareness through models implementing special tariffs and also promoted the implementation of virtual power plants from 100 % renewable energy units. Aggregators define a new era for renewable energy sources, opening avenues to new markets and services for decentralised renewable energy. Importantly, flexibility is the key to ensuring adaptation of the energy system to decentralised power production and regionalisation of the electricity sector. Using the experience gained during the project, BestRES partners drafted a set of recommendations to support future strategies and ease the transition towards cleaner sources of energy. Caneva also highlights the importance of “the current and future European legislation on the seamless implementation of renewable energy aggregation across Europe.″ Undoubtedly, we should continue to encourage investments in the renewable energy sector as a more environmentally friendly approach.
BestRES, renewable energy, electricity, energy aggregator, sustainable energy, business model, photovoltaic, decentralised power production