A new European project will develop technology that rewards individuals and companies for being more flexible electricity consumers so their needs can be met with renewable energy. Aalborg University puts an important IT stamp on the effort that will be tested on a large scale in Switzerland, Germany and Cyprus.
The GOFLEX project brings together Aalborg University’s Department of Computer Science and eleven other partners from Ireland, Slovenia, Cyprus, Switzerland and Germany. With a total budget of over DKK 83 million they will develop and test technology for a more patchwork-like green energy market where production also comes from the public’s own solar panels and wind turbines.
Using cash rewards for flexibility is one of the tools, but the project also aims to engage private consumers, businesses and government customers more broadly in a GOFLEX community around sustainability.
- We must take the things that each partner has previously done and turn them into a joint solution that can do all those things and more. The goal is to support renewable energy in the distribution network and create a better balance between consumption and production by making flexibility a commercial product, explains Torben Bach Pedersen, Professor, Center for Data Intensive Systems (Daisy), Aalborg University.
The Aalborg researchers’ contribution is the technology that takes small units of flexible consumption and pools them into larger packets that can automatically be traded on existing or new electricity markets. The flexibility can come from washing machines, electric cars or industrial processes where power consumption can be shifted to a more convenient time. This will create a better balance in the distribution network and reduce the risk of bottlenecks.
Although the project appeals to environmental friendliness, the conclusion from previous attempts is that there has to be a carrot for consumers.
- People won't do it without getting something in return. If it costs the same no matter when you are using the power, whether or not you’re flexible, there are other things that are more important – comfort, if you are a regular consumer, and considerations relating to the production or something else, if it’s a company. So if you must take something into account, then you have to get something for it, notes Torben Bach Pedersen.
The EU project will be led by IBM's Research Division in Ireland, which like AAU has the necessary expertise in handling very large amounts of data and is also contributing with solutions for estimating energy production and consumption in different places and times.
Several of the other partners know Aalborg University from related European projects such as the record-breaking Arrowhead and the award-winning MIRABEL, both of which have helped pave the way for the European test cases planned in the new project. The same goes for the Danish TotalFlex project that, with support from Energinet.dk, is ready to bring flexibility-enhancing technology to Danish households and businesses.
- In the Danish project, we have done small demonstrations; now we get the chance to test on a really large scale, along with a German, a Swiss and a Cypriot distribution system operator. We will be doing demonstrations in their networks with hundreds of private and commercial consumers that will be linked and use this technology. Hopefully, we will have then shown that this can work and it will be the starting signal to move forward and get it out on the market, says Torben Bach Pedersen.
The newly-founded spin-out company Flexshape is intended as a framework for commercializing the flexibility-enhancing technologies that the computer scientists in the Center for Data Intensive Systems have been working on the past seven years.
While the EU partners in the new GOFLEX project have just held the kick-off meeting in Ireland, the Danish TotalFlex project is nearing completion. This was marked with a technology demonstration at NOVI Science Park in Aalborg on Monday, November 28, 2016.
Source: News from AAU