The consumer as the guardian of the power system: The FutureFlow project

The FutureFlow project is now fully engaged and progressing at full speed. 12 partners from 8 different countries are dealing with the challenges of a modern power system where consumers, equipped with state-of-the-art devices, are no longer ordinary consumers, but also produce electricity. They become active players in the power system’s security. Like guardians of the system, contributing to the most challenging balancing services of all.

The analysis clearly reveals the low level of Renewable Energy Sources in the balancing markets, which is due to the variable nature of these sources, in combination with the rather complex technicalities of balancing services. On the other hand, based on a field survey, case studies and theoretical analysis, demand response & distributed generators flexibility has been identified in a wide range of devices and processes in the industry, tertiary and household sectors. In Austria, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia, 318 MW of demand response & distributed generators potential for flexibility services has been identified. With the goal to enable higher integration of demand response & distributed generators in balancing markets and facilitating the functioning of these markets, the project partners have designed two platforms:

  1. Prototype platform for the aggregation of distributed generation and demand response: By means of a prototype aggregation solution and renewable generation forecasting techniques, flexibility providers – distributed generators and commercial and industrial consumers providing demand response – will be able to provide products for balancing services. Retailers will act as flexibility aggregators and will pool resources in order to provide the products required by the TSO.
  2. Prototype of the regional balancing and re-dispatching platform: The main component of the prototype platform is the Common Activation Function, which is tailored to deal with congested borders and optimized for overcoming critical intra-regional barriers. The Common Activation Function is implemented as a cloud solution of a prototype Regional Balancing and re-dispatching Platform, which makes research activities concerning cross-border integration flexible while linking with the aggregation solution.

In the FutureFlow project, various demand response & distributed generators technologies will be tested in real-time field pilot tests. This means that – based on the needs of the Austrian, Hungarian, Romanian and Slovenian power systems – participating demand response & distributed generators sources will be receiving control signals every two seconds and should adjust their output power accordingly, consequently contributing to the balance of the power systems. However, for TSOs, ensuring the system stability and integrity is of the highest importance. Therefore, in order to carry out realistic real-time tests, without interfering with the live operational Load Frequency Control systems of the participating TSOs, FutureFlow partners designed an advanced pilot test environment. The test environment hosts parallel TSO environments, realistically interacting with the regional balancing platform and therefore enabling as many realistic tests of the prototype as possible, including the very important cyber security aspect.

It should be emphasised that demand response & distributed generators providers expect not only to participate in the pilot tests that shall be carried out in 2018, but also to be included in the subsequent “real world” balancing services. Ultimately, their participation will depend on the technical capability of their units in providing these flexible services, and on financial incentive, which may involve some risk due to generally low electricity prices.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Grant Agreement No 691777.

www.futureflow.eu