Innovations move the world and increasingly more digital platforms allow individuals to participate in the business. And why not? It is obvious that people’s interest in monetizing not only their currently unused property or car but often also their free time is huge! All we have to do is to match the supply with the demand.
In the context of the Slovak energy sector, flexibility – i.e. the regulation of energy sources and energy-intensive appliances according to the needs of the transmission system, has a great, but not yet fully exploited potential.
Thanks to the flexibility, the market for regulation services, which has recently lost a large number of participants, can be extended by resources and technologies that would normally be switched off or operated with different power outputs. Flexibility maximizes the utilization of these technologies and therefore also results in lower CO2 emissions at the level of electricity generation and distribution.
flexibility brAIn balances the electricity supplier's load deviations on a very similar principle to the battery storage system.
But instead of batteries, it manages the energy sources and technologies with the potential for accumulation and regulation, such as heat pumps, furnaces, tanks and reservoirs, cooling and heating systems (HVAC), compressors, electric vehicles, photovoltaic panels or other technologies and resources.
Briefly explained, in the case of power shortage, flexibility brAIn activates the available energy sources and reduces the power output of technologies for a given time interval. The same principle, but in the opposite direction, applies when there is a surplus of electricity and therefore it is necessary to withdraw it from the grid.
flexibility brAIn works in real-time on a 15-minute basis and it is available either as a standalone service or as an extension to the smart battery storage brAIn, which can manage the electricity production and consumption even more efficiently.
How is the flexibility brAIn different from power system flexibility?
The service of flexibility is nothing new in the neighboring Czech Republic. However, in terms of power system flexibility, the following attributes must be clearly defined:
time interval during which flexibility is available (reserved);
available regulation range → i.e. the +/- range of service activation within the available time interval;
required power output gradient when activating the service, such as the delay between the instruction to activate the flexibility and its technical activation, gradient of power output rise/drop, and duration of the stable power output between the rise and drop.
The entity that provides power system flexibility is thus obliged to provide the regulation power within defined ranges and availability for specified time intervals. The entity is subsequently rewarded for its availability and for the volume of the provided regulation electricity.
flexibility brAIn does not require an energy source or technology to be available for the predefined time intervals. Based on data about electricity price developments, supplier's load deviations, and smart predictions, the FUERGY software offers certain "opportunities" throughout the day, during which the regulation can take place.
For every regulation opportunity, it also specifies the volume of regulation power, i.e. the most suitable reduction or increase of the power output (in kilowatts), that should be activated for each particular technology. The technology regulation takes place only within the pre-agreed conditions and limits, so that it does not affect the operation of the delivery point, the comfort of the users, or the quality of the final product in any way.
The customer can also decide whether he will perform the activation manually, at his own discretion, or he will let the software handle it absolutely autonomously. The automatic mode is, however, far more popular among the customers as the regulation becomes hassle-free and achieves the best financial results possible.
Economic and environmental benefits
The biggest advantage of flexibility brAIn is that it is a pure software upgrade to the existing technologies and therefore it is cost-effective and easy to implement. In fact, the whole implementation process is a matter of days, and in some cases even hours!
All we need to do is to ensure stable and secure communication between the technology and the FUERGY software. This communication can be enabled via an existing measurement and regulation system (so-called MaR) or via special hardware, such as the FUERGY Control Unit. Due to the fact that both the flexibility and the battery storage system are the "behind the smart meter" solutions, having the smart meter or secondary electricity measurement is necessary. Today, however, this isn't any major obstacle.
A significant impact of flexibility brAIn on the environment must also be underlined – in a good way, of course. Regulation services (or the so-called ancillary services) are mostly provided by large fossil fuel entities. This is because of their reliability and availability when it comes to power generation. By making the smaller, low-emission participants a part of the non-certified regulation service market we can replace the fossil providers and thus reduce the production of greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale.
Flexibility for large customers
In Slovakia, flexibility is currently being used mainly by large energy producers and owners of high-energy-intensive technologies. It is because the majority of flexibility solutions require a certain level of surveillance over the technology regulation in order to prevent potential errors that could undermine the achieved effect. As we have already mentioned, flexibility brAIn can work in fully automatic mode which is even more efficient and achieves better financial results than when human subjectivity gets involved.
The flexibility brAIn operates at the level of battery storage, energy-intensive systems (so-called DER or demand energy response), and adjustments of the plans for the electricity consumption and production (in case the customer has its own energy source). FUERGY software constantly records data on electricity production and consumption and plans their further development. For this purpose, it uses its FUERGY's special monitoring systems and prediction algorithms with implemented artificial intelligence. At the same time, it also provides an online overview of how much regulation power has been activated by each particular technology.
Aggregated flexibility for smaller delivery points and households
As was already outlined, a huge potential for flexibility lies in smaller energy sources and technologies. Even at the household level. Because just as large consumption points, households have the same “opportunities” to provide regulation services throughout the day.
Households can participate in flexibility brAIn with several technologies: battery storage system, photovoltaic + battery storage system, electrical appliances such as heat pumps, electric boilers, air conditioning or heating systems, or smart charging station for EVs.
However, it is more efficient to manage all smaller entities as one group – i.e. to aggregate them. Under the current Slovak legislation, this can be done for delivery points within one balance group. Through the Integrated flexibility aggregator brAIn, the electricity suppliers can manage small participants altogether. The application offers comprehensive online information on the activated regulation power for each technology involved and for each time interval.
And since all the participants in the flexibility are in one balance group, the financial effect can be easily redistributed by the electricity suppliers as a part of the monthly invoicing. What is more, all data are absolutely transparent and verifiable, as the provided regulation electricity is cleared by the Short-term Electricity Market Operator (OKTE).
The integrated flexibility aggregator brAIn is thus the first step in enabling electricity suppliers to start offering new products and services to households and small delivery points allowing them to monetize their green technologies. Or at least to incentive them to get these technologies installed. Households are also keeping their status of the regulated entity and the associated guarantees in the form of fixed electricity prices.
Today, we have several successful flexibility projects behind us. And although this service is still being fine-tuned, an average monthly effect of the flexibility brAIn for larger delivery points goes up to EUR 50 per 1 kW of regulation power.
The project for households is in the stage of pilot testing. However, the expected savings are way more interesting than the double-tariff metering. We see a high demand for FUERGY household solutions and we will try to introduce this project to the market shortly.
In general, the achieved savings are translated into a faster ROI on green technologies, which makes them an attractive investment opportunity. And this is what attracts the attention of various players from the financial sector who could potentially finance the green technologies (not only) for households, offer them for lease under the model Energy as a service and thus facilitate access to cheaper green energy for every single electricity consumer.
As you can see, the digitalization of the energy sector through the flexibility brAIn opens up new ways to fill the gaps in the energy market and boost the green energy transformation. Experience proves to us that this concept has great use. Thanks to the high degree of efficiency it saves a lot of unnecessary fees as well as the environment. So, let's give innovation a try and join forces for a better future of energy.
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