In an important step forward for the energy transition, some of Europe's biggest Transmission System Operators (TSOs) are collaborating on a new blockchain-based platform, enabling the integration of small and distributed consumer-based units into the electricity-balancing process. Owners of consumer devices, electric vehicles for example, can earn money making "flexible" their interaction with the electric grid via an aggregator, affording them an active role in grid-balancing and with that in the entire energy transition.
Equigy sets a new European standard
The new platform, Equigy, will set a new European standard and allow three of Europe's national TSOs - the entities tasked with transporting energy and balancing supply and demand - to work together to enhance and improve the integration of renewables, providing more flexibility to mitigate their aleatory effect on grid. Among other initiatives of its kind in Europe, this is seen as the most viable collective approach, offering standardisation, a common approach from TSOs with neutral governance, and the opportunity for scale-up. For further information see the IDTechEx report on Distributed Generation: Off-Grid Zero-Emission kW-MW 2020-2040.
The consortium of Swissgrid, TenneT and Terna will launch the platform in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, using it to help balance the power system. Denmark's Energinet has formally expressed its intention to join the consortium, which will extend Equigy's European roll-out to five countries.
Tapping into the power of small-scale consumer-based devices and EVs
The platform will unlock the potential of small units. The value and effectiveness of the blockchain technology on which it is based has been tried and tested through a number of pilots.
TSOs can use the distributed capacity offered by a wide range of sources, including electric cars, heat pumps, water boilers and domestic batteries in private homes. For owners of electric vehicles, the process is enabled by using bidirectional (two-way) chargers, allowing them to sell their flexibility by injecting electricity in the grid. Equigy's platform will validate all these transactions using blockchain technology.
The system is not exclusive and can operate in synergy with other balancing schemes and tools. The technology and software will be provided free of charge and will be open source to encourage the development of secondary applications across the energy value chain. The TSOs are engaging in this activity with no commercial interest and with the sole aim of getting down entry barriers for distributed energy resources thus supporting the transformation towards a climate-neutral electricity system. Equigy aims to unlock as many clean distributed energy sources as possible.
New players in the electricity value chain
The energy world is changing fast, both on the supply side and on the demand side. As the modern electricity supply now operates on renewables for increasing periods of time, there is a need for new sources of flexibility to balance the grid. Traditional power plants, historically used by TSOs to balance the electricity system, are now progressively reducing their contribution to the generation and flexibility mix.
At the same time, energy consumption is changing too, due to growing demand from electric cars, heat-pumps and other consumer-based devices. All this is leading to fluctuations in supply and demand. And of course, small-scale flexibility resources are more difficult to manage in the electricity system. This is where the value of our new crowd-balancing platform Equigy comes in: a tool to break through barriers, facilitate data exchange between stakeholders, and bring new players and technologies into the electricity value chain.
Talking about Equigy's potential, Rene Kerkmeester, initiator and Programme Director of Equigy says: "Europe's energy transition aims to drive more renewable power through the grid. But weather-dependent power is volatile: we can't rely on the sun to always shine, or the wind to always blow. Also, we cannot yet store large amounts of electricity. In many countries, we are therefore still reliant on fossil fuels to balance the grid when renewable sources aren't available. This is not good for the planet and it's costly. Equigy offers a sustainable and cost-effective solution to this challenge."
Equigy market scalable for growth
TSOs are the logical owners of this ambitious initiative and Terna, TenneT and Swissgrid are proud to be founding partners of Equigy. As market facilitators, TSOs are not hindered by commercial interests and are already in the process of establishing a European electricity network. Equigy successfully serves the purposes of TSOs, helping to balance the system and ensuring security of supply. The new platform gives everyone an opportunity to be part the European energy transition and will work closely with multiple stakeholders, including aggregators, regional grid operators, electricity suppliers, the automotive industry and technology companies. Looking ahead, the Equigy market is scalable. It is designed to grow not only as more consumers adopt renewable energy solutions in their daily lives, but also by reaching out to other European TSOs to join the platform. And as more of these technologies are connected to the network, the bigger the available pool of flexible and green electricity will become. For example, forecasts suggest there will be around 7 million electric vehicles on the road in Germany by 2030 - representing roughly 70GW of flexibility.
"CBP has the potential to transform the role of small producers in the provision of energy, and so become a key part balancing our grid in the energy transition, democratising the energy system," says Rene Kerkmeester "We are excited about implementing this innovative solution with our partners."
Source and top image: Equigy