Innovations move the world forward and today, increasingly more digital platforms are allowing individuals to join the world of business. And why not? It is obvious that interest in monetizing not only currently unused property or vehicles, but often also free time is huge! All that is necessary is to match supply with the demand.
In terms 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, shows great, but not yet fully exploited potential.
Thanks to this flexibility, the market for regulation services, which has shrunk considerably recently, can be extended by taking advantage of resources and technologies that would normally be switched off or operated with different power outputs. Flexibility maximises the utilisation of these technologies, resulting in lower CO2 emissions at the level of electricity generation and distribution.
Our flexibility brAIn balances the load deviations of an electricity supplier using very similar principle to battery storage systems.
However, instead of batteries, energy sources and technologies with the potential for accumulation and regulation, such as heat pumps, furnaces, tanks and reservoirs, heating and cooling systems (HVAC), compressors, electric vehicles, photovoltaic panels or other technologies and resources, are managed intelligently.
Briefly, in the case of a power shortage, the flexibility brAIn activates available energy sources simultaneously reducing the power output of technologies for a given time. The same principle applies in reverse when there is a surplus of energy and the need to draw it from the power grid.
The flexibility brAIn works in real-time on 15-minute intervals and is available either as a standalone service or as an extension to the smart battery storage brAIn, which can manage energy 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:
the time interval during which flexibility is available (reserved);
available regulation range → i.e. the +/- range of service activation within the available time interval;
the required power output range when activating the service, such as the delay between a request to activate flexibility and its realisation, the range of power output rise/drop and the duration of stable power between the rise and drop.
The provider of power system flexibility is thus obliged to provide regulation power within defined ranges, available for specified time intervals. The provider is subsequently rewarded for its availability and for the volume of the supplied regulation electricity.
The flexibility brAIn does not require an energy source or technology to be available for predefined time intervals. Utilising data on electricity price developments, supplier 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, 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 is also specified. Technology regulation takes place only within pre-agreed conditions and limits, so as to not affect operations at the delivery point, the comfort of users or the quality of the final product in any way.
Customers can also decide whether to perform activation manually, at their own discretion, or let the software handle it entirely autonomously. Automatic mode is far more popular as the energy regulation is hassle-free and reaches the highest level of savings possible.
Economic and environmental benefits
The greatest advantage of the flexibility brAIn is that it is simply a software upgrade to existing technologies and therefore cost-effective and easy to implement. In fact, the whole process takes only a matter of days, and in some cases, even hours!
All that is necessary is to ensure stable and secure communication between the technology and the FUERGY software. This can be enabled via an existing measurement and regulation system (MaR) or through special hardware, such as the FUERGY Control Unit. As both the flexibility and the battery storage system are the behind-the-smart-meter solutions, having a smart meter or secondary electricity measurement is necessary.
The significant environmental impact of the flexibility brAIn must also be highlighted. Regulation services (or so-called ancillary services) are mostly provided by large fossil fuel entities. This is due to reliability and availability when it comes to power generation. By including smaller, low-emission participants in the non-certified regulation service market, the fossil fuel providers can be replaced, helping to reduce the production of greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale.
Flexibility for large customers
In Slovakia, flexibility is currently used primarily by large energy producers and owners of high-energy-intensive technologies. This is because the majority of flexibility solutions require a certain level of surveillance over the technology regulation in order to prevent errors that could undermine the intended results. As mentioned above, the flexibility brAIn can work in fully automatic mode, which is even more efficient, guaranteeing better savings than when human subjectivity is involved.
The flexibility brAIn operates at the level of battery storage, energy-intensive systems (DER or demand energy response), and adjusts the plans for electricity consumption and production (in case the customer has its own energy source). FUERGY software continuously records electricity production and consumption data and plans further development. For this purpose, FUERGY's unique monitoring systems and prediction algorithms with implemented artificial intelligence are employed. At the same time, an online overview of how much regulation power has been activated by each particular technology is provided.
Aggregated flexibility for smaller delivery points and households
The greatest potential for flexibility lies in smaller energy sources and technologies,even at the household level. Just like large consumption points, households exhibit the same “opportunities” to provide regulation services throughout the day.
Households can implement the flexibility brAIn through several technologies: a battery storage system, photovoltaic + battery storage system, electrical appliances such as heat pumps, electric boilers, air conditioning or heating systems, or smart charging stations for EVs.
However, it is much more efficient to manage all smaller entities as one group – i.e. to aggregate. Under current Slovak legislation, this can be done for delivery points within one balance group. Through the Integrated flexibility aggregator brAIn, electricity suppliers can manage small participants altogether. Comprehensive information on the activated regulation power for each technology involved and for each time interval is available online.
Since all flexibility participants are in one balance group, the financial savings can be easily distributed by electricity suppliers as a part of the monthly invoicing. What is more, all data are absolutely transparent and verifiable, as the regulation electricity provided 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 begin offering new products and services to households and small delivery points, allowing them to monetize green technologies, and providing new incentive to utilise energy efficient technologies. Households will also maintain the status of regulated entity and any associated guarantees, like fixed electricity prices.
Today, we have several successful flexibility projects up and running and although the service is still being fine-tuned, the average monthly outcome of the flexibility brAIn for larger delivery points can reach 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 far greater than double-tariff metering. There is a high demand for FUERGY household solutions and we expect the service to be available soon.
In general, savings are translated into a faster ROI on green technologies, creating interesting investment opportunities and attracting the attention of various players from the financial sector. These players could potentially finance new green technologies offered for lease under the Energy as a service model, facilitating access to cheaper green energy for every individual electricity consumer.
Digitalization of the energy sector through the flexibility brAIn opens new ways to fill the gaps in the energy market and boost the transformation to green energy sources. Experience has proven that this concept has a wide range of uses. Thanks to a high degree of efficiency, a lot of unnecessary fees are saved and so does the environment. So, let's give innovation a try and join forces for a better energy future.
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