Smart grids fuse energy development with technological advancements. Using sensors, IoT, and other computing devices, there is a provision for two-way communication between consumers and utility providers in a smart grid. As an artificially intelligent system, a huge amount of data comes from various sources, e.g. smart meters. All the unstructured data gathered from these sources can only be valuable with smart grid analytics.
Smart grid analytics are systematic computational analyses of the data produced in the grids. With these analytics, one can get a more precise interpretation, communication, and identification of data trends or meaningful patterns from the data that comes in. Thus, it is essential to improve grid operations and predict the next course of action.
A Brief History
From the 1990s, attempts at electronic metering, control and monitoring evolved into smart grids. From automated meter readings in the 1980s to Advanced Metering Infrastructures in the 1990s, attempts have been made to go beyond measuring power usage to maximizing the information.
The concepts of analytics can be traced back to the 19th century with Frederick Winslow Taylor’s time management exercises and Henry Ford’s measurements of assembly lines’ speeds. It would interest you to know that predictive analytics (which is now of high importance in smart grids) started in the 1940s. However, it did not attract any attention until the 1960s, when decision support systems became popular. By 2005, businesses applied analytics to make iterative explorations on past activities and make decisions to plan the future.
Applying analytics to smart grid data is what birthed smart grid analytics. The problem of big data (as Roger Magoulas called it in 2005) has always existed as long as the internet. Around early 2012, big data in smart grid systems initiated collaboration between smart grid integration companies and data analytics start-ups.
As grids became smarter, grid data analytics also developed, using available technologies such as machine learning techniques. Computing techniques like statistics, machine learning (under artificial intelligence), and data analytics are now being applied in various facets, and the power sector is not left out. As we will see, smart grid analytics gives relevant information that helps set the course of upcoming activities for the effective distribution of power.
Three Things You Should Know About The Current Trends In Smart Grid Analytics
For one, the smart grids analytics market in Europe was projected in 2019 to grow at the compounded rate of 11-12.7% by 2025. This growth is based on how advanced grid technologies are embraced on a broader scale. However, I have observed these trends;
1. There is currently rapid growth in investment in smart grids projects and, subsequently, smart grids analytics.
Many countries in the European Union have invested in smart grids projects and are recording successes. Of the projects, up to 59% are demonstration projects, 32% are for deployment, while 9% are research and development projects. A significant highlight is the smart meter roll-out in Italy that takes up to 71% of these projects aforementioned.
Smart meters are installed in all of these projects, and to get relevant information from the data, smart grids analytics have to be employed. These projects result from increased interest and initiatives channelled to the ongoing energy transformation and sustainability goals.
2. Smart grid analytics work with real-time data even with the increased speed and variety of requirements.
This easy adaptation is because they are entirely computerized and are built on the blocks of advanced technologies. Smart grid analytics can now generate information from high-speed data of various forms needed for the grids’ operation and prior knowledge of what to put in as resources.
3. Digital technologies and cloud computing would continue to improve and allow for more data computation.
Digital data, which highest storage used to be terabytes, is now accessible on larger scales like exabytes and zettabytes. Manual methods and previous ways of analyzing this data are becoming redundant. Also, with the inclusion of renewable energy in the conventional grids, the adaptation of intelligent systems is increasing, and the need for grid data analytics will follow this trend.
Challenges Of Smart Grid Analytics
Despite the enormous advantages and improved technologies, there are still a few challenges. Some include:
- Cost implications – the initial costs of setting up smart grids make many grid operators sceptical about using smart grid analytics. For the grid as well, it usually includes the costs of sensors and other components in making it effective. The analytics themselves are part of what makes the smart grid a modern electric system. However, it is worth the investment to foster a low-carbon economy and a greener world.
- Security concerns – the fact that smart grids allow for two-way communication is a concern as the data is prone to cyber-attacks. Despite this, cybersecurity has continued to improve and is developing better solutions using codes and encrypted data.
- Customer demand – the demand needed for effective use of smart grid analytics is higher than what exists now. Not enough grid operators have adopted analytics, and the low-scale usage is not optimal. More large-scale energy supplying and distributing firms need to embrace the new technologies at this time.
I must re-emphasize that smart grid analytics is crucial to improving smart grids’ efficiency, reliability, and sustainability. And Hive Power provides a SaaS platform with intelligent grid analysis and a flexibility management solution called the Flexibility Orchestrator to help the renewable energy industry key players improve their activities and offer services more desirably.
The use of smart grid analytics benefits both the consumers and the suppliers of power because it improves energy management, allows for more efficient power transmission, and lowers the cost of operation and management of energy. In addition, with the use of analytics, demand would match supply more because of improved decision making.
With the recent push to integrate renewable energy into the existing energy infrastructures, it is becoming clear that there is a need to adjust its operation mode. This need is apparent because most renewable energy sources depend on the weather and are not easy to predict or plan with. Moreover, the power generated from such sources as wind energy and solar energy is highly stochastic. This situation calls for the application of advanced technologies for renewable energy forecasting and scheduling.
Renewable energy forecasting helps foresee what changes are expected in the amount of energy that will be generated in the future. This prior knowledge is informative for energy suppliers to plan the input they put into generating systems. Renewable energy scheduling also works side-by-side with forecasting because it is mainly determined by the predictions made by the energy forecasting models.
How renewable energy forecasting and scheduling work
Recent advancements in artificial intelligence have improved the job of weather forecasting (done by meteorologists) through machine learning. As a result, grid operators can leverage machine learning techniques to determine the amount of renewable energy that will be used and purchased by consumers at a particular time.
Machine learning (which is used for renewable energy forecasting) works because a software system learns patterns from recent data and develops an improved analysis for the future. In order to achieve this, a forecasting model is designed to fit a particular situation over several days. In addition, the data collected must be valid, accurate, reliable, consistent, and complete to be effective.
What You Should Know About Renewable Energy Forecasting And Scheduling
Here are five important things about renewable energy forecasting and scheduling you should know;
1. Renewable energy forecasting is built around short-term forecasting
Forecasting can be done with different horizons: short, medium, and long-term. Short-term forecasting involves forecasting from a few minutes to a few days ahead. It is used for day-to-day activities, and this time frame applies to renewable energy prediction.
The lead times in short-term forecasting are such that the changes in weather over a short period can be analyzed and used to predict the data to be used the next time. Renewable energy forecasting and scheduling require updated and recent data as frequently as possible, and short-term forecasting achieves that. The amazing part of it all is that there would be little or no human interruption with the presence of technology. Such way, errors would be significantly minimized.
2. Decentralized computing plays a prominent role in renewable energy scheduling.
Decentralized computing involves the allocation of both software and hardware to various points of duty. It is not like centralized computing, where all activities stem from a particular place. This form of computing (decentralized computing) is necessary for renewable energy scheduling because of the nature of locations in renewable energy generation and consumption.
For example, in an energy community, several houses may produce power at a time, and some utilities need power. The allotment of power to different places can be done effectively with decentralized computing technologies like the blockchain. It is effective because control has to happen independently from various locations when forecasting predictions require an adjustment.
3. Smart grids allow for renewable energy forecasting and scheduling.
Smart grids are electrical distribution points that are not like the conventional grid. The difference is that they contain many operation and control systems, advanced metering systems, intelligent circuit breakers and boards, and most importantly, renewable energy sources fit in well. Their operations are more efficient and can be readily evaluated because of the availability of needed information at the click of the finger. It is in such a system that renewable energy forecasting and scheduling can thrive.
Advanced forecasting models can be introduced and used to plan how the plants would run, whether solar photovoltaics or wind turbines. The ease in integration occurs because the smart grid already has smart IoT devices for thermal sensing, smart meters, phasor management networks, and the likes.
4. Grids with renewable energy attain stability easier with forecasting models in place.
Grid stability is of utmost importance for the sake of the life span of grids. Grid operators cannot consistently have variations in input and output in the grid happen repeatedly. With accurate renewable energy forecasting models, proper preparation and scheduling would be done, and there would be less frequent stability problems. Renewable energy forecasting and scheduling cut back most excesses when it comes to grid management.
5. The weather is a significant factor in renewable energy forecasting and scheduling.
Renewable energy forecasts are usually a combination of accurate weather predictions and the availability of plants and systems. The weather is a great factor, as the weather changes cause significant changes in the renewable power generated. For example, the variable speed of the wind is proportional to the amount of power generated by wind turbines. In the same way, the intensity of sun rays and the positioning of clouds play a big role in the fluctuations when it comes to solar power.
What makes renewable energy forecasting and scheduling interesting is that it studies the highly influencing factors of effective power generation. This kind of study is immediately applied, rather than just being carried out for nothing. It turns out that analyzing the weather, as Meteomatics does, has a vital role in the forecasting done by Hive Power’s Forecaster.
Renewable Energy Forecasting and Scheduling Solution – Hive Power
Hive Power’s Forecaster is one of our Flexibility Operator’s modules that performs short-term forecasting in a very accurate manner. It simply considers various factors involved in renewable energy-based power generation and uses them in forecasting. Its machine learning models make predictions on the amount of energy that would be used and generated in the future, based on previous data. This data is real-time data which is very helpful because it is used as soon as it is delivered.
Renewable energy forecasting and scheduling are essential for the effectiveness of renewable energy systems. With more observations in the needs of a renewable energy system, new technologies keep springing up, and it fosters development. Therefore, it is crucial to embrace these technologies as they come, especially when they are practical and efficient like this (in renewable energy forecasting and scheduling).
Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology is a means to a greater end for the world of sustainable energy. Even though V2G is not yet prevalent, the structures necessary for communication between grids and electric vehicles have already started growing with advanced technology. It is essential to note that communication protocols that serve as guidelines in their various applications have to be flexible enough to accommodate change constantly.
Communication protocols guide the interactions between two digitally connected entities. In this case, electric vehicles and grids are the entities. Without standards, there is always a gap and disorderliness. Such chaos is not needed in the exchange of data and the facilitation of communication in the application of V2G (Vehicle-to-grid) technology. The IEC 15118 protocol steps in to solve this problem.
V2G technology can only be implemented swiftly and much more if the points of interaction between the two elements, the vehicle, and the grid, recognize each other. You would agree with me that adaptability makes any product or technology, like the advent of electric vehicle usage, more feasible and desirable. The IEC 15118 protocol is one of the other communication protocols but paves the way for a smooth transition in vehicle-grid integration.
The Focus of V2G Communication Protocols
Many concerns come up when it comes to any kind of data exchange. There is a need for the details (like the specifications & unique identity) of a vehicle to be communicated in V2G. Asides from the fact that details may easily be tracked and need a high level of security, the flexibility of the interactions between EVs, charging systems, and grids are highly required for V2G to thrive.
The IEC 15118 started in 2009 for the Vehicle-to-grid Communication Interface to promote autonomous usage. Interestingly, this protocol is still under development, yet it already gives a platform that allows for a broader scope. As V2G communication is needed to be in place for automatic billing and access to the internet, the IEC 15118 protocol gives a form of global compatibility that applies just as well.
IEC 15118 Protocol: What you should know
Of the two main kinds of community protocols (the front-end protocol and the back-end protocol), I would spotlight the IEC 15118 protocol (which is a front-end protocol. That is as a result of its relevance in V2G technology and its application. Also known as the ISO 15118 protocol, it is one of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards for electric vehicles (including trucks). It has some interesting sides to it, as I would explain below.
1. More Advanced Communication with IEC 15118
Compared to a similar protocol, like the IEC 61851, the IEC 15118 communication protocol is more advanced. For example, ISO 15118 gives the requirements for charging load management, billing and metering. It thus promotes bi-directional digital communication, which is the basis for V2G communication.
IEC 61851 can only do basic signalling, like indicating readiness for charging and connection status. However, IEC 15118 is applicable for high-level communication, which is an advancement. This places it at the core of EV charging and even V2G interactions. This way, there is better communication and information transfer between the Electric Vehicle and the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE).
2. Versatile Application of IEC 15118 to Wired and Wireless Charging
In its implementation for charging electric vehicles, you can apply IEC 15118 to both wired (AC and DC) and wireless charging. Since V2G applies to various kinds of electric vehicles, this protocol suits it appropriately.
With the current update on part 8 of the IEC 15118 protocol, you would notice an improvement that would allow for wireless connection. Part 8, which is the Physical layer and data link layer requirements for wireless communication, informs the protocol’s versatility.
3. Security via Digital Certification in IEC 1158
The communication between vehicles and grids (via V2G) with the IEC 15118 protocol is more secure. This is a result of the use of digital certificates. In addition, public key infrastructures issue and manage digital certificates. These certificates link people, systems, and keys.
Like passcodes (but more complex), encrypted data is used in IEC 15118 to keep information safe. This way, the limit of insecurities in V2G communication is eliminated. Even digital signatures can be created and used as and when due. If, at any time, for any reason, a digital certificate is no longer trusted, the public key can be reversed. Also, these security features have time limits and make it harder to cheat on the system.
4. Automated Authorization
Using IEC 15118, there is no need to do any other thing at the point of shedding excess power from an electric vehicle to the grid asides from doing the necessary plugging. The automated system allows the system to authenticate the identity of the two sides in communication. It uses different authentication schemes like the Plug and Charge technology, enabling the vehicle to authenticate and identify itself on behalf of the driver.
The use of RFIDs (Radio Frequency Identification) can be aptly applied in the use of IEC 15118 as a means of external identification. Low power radio waves are used in this application to identify the vehicle and automatically carry out authentication.
5. Standard Nature of the IEC 15118 Protocol
ISO/IEC 15118 is a protocol that forms part of the Combined Charging System (CCS) – a group of standards for hardware and software in charging systems. The CCS agrees to use this to enhance charging that can be operated with various specifications.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) also recognizes the IEC 15118 protocol for V2G communication. Being an international body made of different national standards organizations that set standards, the ISO is globally recognized.
With Hive Power’s Flexibility Manager Module, anywhere V2G would be implemented, charging and discharging can be coordinated easily. This is done by maximizing devices that can be remotely controlled under this module. The Hive platform also provides a means of improving the accuracy of energy data and enhancing smart grids.
Generally, the interoperability and openness of IEC 15118 make it fit in as a V2G communication protocol well. Yet, it is not at the level it should be in the market. Moreover, due to the nature of the V2G technology as one which is still under development, the entire structure needs to keep improving to aid more advanced communication between the digitally communicating elements.
The introduction of demand-side response meets the preferences of the consumer of energy and helps the energy supply systems to remain balanced. Even though business owners and large-scale commercial corporations were the first to take advantage of this development for the sake of profits, it has moved in its application. Consumer demand-side response is now a point of interest as Demand-side response has its advantages to both a residential consumer and a business owner.
Through demand-side response, the use of power is flexible; as the consumer, you can adjust your energy demand according to your needs. When the United States Energy Independence and Security Act in 2007 defined the term demand response, it described it as all activities related to reducing peak demand through smart pricing and metering, as well as enabling technologies. The whole idea of consumer demand-side response benefits the grid by keeping it stable.
The term Demand-side response was known as Demand-side management (DSM) after the energy crisis in 1979. Various governments wanted to effectively manage demand through different programs because of the issues that arose with energy (fossil fuel then) production. These developments happened both in 1973 and 1979. However, the only thing that is helping Demand-side management thrive now is the availability of communication tools and more technology.
How Consumer Demand-Side Response Works
A distribution grid is responsible for the conveyance of power finally to the end-users. There is a frequency at which power comes into the grid; without renewable energy sources, this frequency is easy to keep stable. You don’t need a high level of control since the power is generated using fossil-based energy sources such as natural gas and coal according to the quantity.
However, including renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy, the input rate is unpredictable. Therefore, the grid operators need the consumers’ cooperation to regulate the power flow to the grid for a reward. Based on requirements and current state, the consumer reduces his power usage and avoids wastage whenever notified.
For a large-scale business or an industrial setting, the demand-side response is very significant because the amount of valuable power that could be wasted is high. Despite their relatively small power capacity, residential consumers can also be participants in demand-side response. With the introduction of advanced technologies, operators can coordinate the demand-side response without much human input. These technologies would account for all little grits of power that accumulate to significant power.
Smart-grid applications provide real-time data to producers and consumers that help them participate in the demand-side response. They aid the effective communication between consumers and producers of electricity on how much is needed and when needed. Consumers can fix their thresholds, then adjust their usage to maximize the prices.
Applicability of Consumer Demand-Side Response
In domestic areas, homes usually have loads that use electric power. They could be:
- Base loads, which are fixed and non-adjustable to meet basic needs such as lighting and the likes.
- Schedulable loads, which are used at some points in time, usually once a day.
- Flexible loads, like water heaters and air conditioning units, are only used when needed.
A consumer can apply the demand-side response to the control of flexible loads in their house. Since they are not used all through the day, they act as virtual batteries. This power gets channelled elsewhere when they are not in use. So, for example, when the weather does not encourage the residents of a house to use the water heating system, they can decline the power supply meant for that purpose.
Technologies Aiding Consumer Demand-Side Response
Certain technologies have been developed and would continue to emerge to achieve the goals of consumer demand-side response. Simply put, they are used for various functions and carry out specific roles to balance the grids.
- Current regulators such as fuses, limiters, and breakers are necessary to moderate the current flowing in or out of a system at a time.
- Distributed intelligent load controllers use artificial intelligence techniques to regulate and manage electricity load in a building.
- Meters – conventional and prepaid meters – are used traditionally to monitor power consumption rate, usage, and units for the sake of payment according to usage.
- Improved metering systems with centralized communication provide two-way communication, inform the consumer of how much power has been used, and help them make decisions. These decisions border around how much power to pay for and use.
The Hive Platform Flexibility Manager Module has an intelligent system used for effective consumer demand-side response. As a result, consumers do not have to be concerned with the activities involved in shifting loads because advanced devices with this technology carry them out.
What the Future Holds for Consumer Demand-Side Response
The advantages businesses get while performing the demand-side responses are more than the disadvantages. Homes can also be a part of this without having to use conventional methods. Smart technologies will continue to get developed and improved till almost all homes become partakers in demand-side response.
The same way advanced metering infrastructures are taking over the metering systems, more people would be able to participate in demand-side response when the available technologies are adopted on a large scale by the grid operators. With advanced grids becoming more used soon, it would aid demand-side response. That way, we can eliminate power outages, and renewable energy would be more appreciated.
Engaging consumers of electricity will only be possible with appropriate communication between them and the suppliers of power. Consumers can make their preferences virtually when necessary or at the initial stages of installation. Also, due to the flexibility introduced in the recent technologies, they can make changes at any point in time.
Electric vehicles come with a lot of advantages. Emission-free, efficient, and optionally rechargeable, as well as being an amazing transportation means. V2G (Vehicle-to-grid) technology allows plug-in electric vehicles to interact with power grids and supply the grids with excess energy in batteries. The idea of Vehicle-to-grid has existed since the beginning of the twenty-first century, precisely in 1997. The future of V2G technology ties its probability with that of the use of electric vehicles.
I was surprised to find that experts worldwide have scepticism about how feasible V2G technology would be in the future. However, technology is never exactly accepted by all and sundry at the point of inception. The future of V2G technology is still bright as the development of smart grids technologies and the production of PEVs (Plug-in Electrical Vehicles) would tend to stimulate it.
Like science, it would thrive when it works according to the hypothesis and proves itself when it is accepted. I still see the trend of V2G technology taking over the world of plug-in electric vehicles.
Growth and Trends in V2G Technology
In a book by Dr Lance Noel and three others (Vehicle-to-grid, a sociotechnical transition beyond electrical mobility), they highlighted the usefulness of V2G in the electric vehicle industry as one which has the potential of moving the industry forward. This is due to their point of view that V2G technology is an excellent motivation for the EV (Electrical Vehicles) market. I cannot as well agree less. The V2G technology market is growing at a fast pace.
Currently, precedence research tells that the global vehicle-to-grid technology market would have attained up to $17.27 billion by 2027. This was predicted from the high rate of growth of EV charging stations all around the world. In 2019, Europe had the largest share of revenue in the Vehicle-to-grid market with about 36% share.
As many companies are investing more in research and development, I have also observed that the growth rate in EVSEs – Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment revenue has increased globally to up to 80%. I relate with the positive predictions of the future of V2G technology from these trends. They give a better platform for the connection between grids and electric vehicles.
Recent Developments in V2G Technology
Coming down the time train from various industrial ages, it is evident that the current age – artificial intelligence age – speaks of a smart age. The concept of smart cities integrates smart homes, smart vehicles, smart grids, and all smart devices in one. Various attempts have been made to develop the technologies that aid the approaching of smart cities. A major key player among these technologies is the electric vehicle. For continuity, V2G technology has continually been researched and is hoped to come closer to reality.
Some remarkable developments in V2G technology I have observed in the past five years include:
- Development of smart grids for electricity and load management – This allows for regulations that would aid apt control in the charging and discharging of electric batteries. EV owners can push the power from the batteries back to the grid and vice versa (in the normal charging situation – G2V, Grid-to-Vehicle). Electric utilities already maximize power by using smart grids, which is a step toward promoting V2G technology.
- Development of batteries and charging systems with the bidirectional operation – In September 2020, Tesla unveiled a new EV battery design that allows for adaptation to the V2G technology. However, it was given that the production of new batteries will start around 2022 and 2023.
Despite speculations about when it would start being applied, this development gives a picture of readiness for change. These new batteries cost about 56% less than the former batteries and store up to 380 Wh/kg. The capacity increases, and the cost decreases. The use of stationary storage facilities poses threats and has its advantages. Yet, we should explore the concept of mobile power storage by virtue of the V2G technology. I believe we can all do more rather than box ourselves with the norm.
Applications in the Future of V2G Technology
The application of V2G technology is major to power grids. This can then be applied in the regular diverse applications. Consequently, the best way to maximize V2G technology is by utilizing it alongside smart grids.
We can apply V2G technology to power homes as well. It can serve as a service that is more consumer-controlled. The same way it is connected to public grids or community grids, your EV can be channelled to provide the power needed from time to time in your homes.
A solar-powered car can provide power to your home when the battery is full or the grid during high demand using the V2G technology. Its application in this area is even essential. This is because temporary storage and proper control of excess power are necessary to avoid fluctuations. What better use than to channel the stored energy to grids where it is needed. The same goes for cars with rechargeable batteries and those with inbuilt generators. V2G technology makes power distribution and production better.
The Next Ten Years – Engineering Advancements to Come in the Future of V2G Technology
A two-sided energy flow idea gives a picture of what the future holds for V2G technology – flow between energy generation and distribution corporations and consumers. V2G technology is on the verge of becoming more widely accepted as electric vehicles are rapidly increasing worldwide. Electric vehicles recorded a 40% increase in yearly sales in 2019 and have continued to grow. To combat the issue of peak demand, you can expect V2G technology to be developed practically and increasingly adopted before 2030.
As technology continues to advance, I expect that batteries will get charged faster, leading to more demand from the grids. As a result, there would be a greater need to balance grid systems, and V2G technology can address most of the problems.
The world would need renewable energy and power sources more than before due to apparent reasons – climate change effects and gas emissions from fossil-fuel-generated power, consequently impacting the grids and their management. V2G technology would contribute to intervening aptly to avert consequences, and I look forward to its full utilization.
Fossil fuels have served their purpose wholly since their discovery, providing energy that has surpassed initial expectations. Still, over the years, with more innovations springing up around the world due to technological development, it has become apparent that the source of our all-important energy and its continued use is detrimental to the environment we so desperately need for continued existence. So we have turned to renewable energy.
This form of energy has a less negative environmental impact, is more sustainable, allows for the creation of a much-needed increase in employment. RE sources also help sovereign nations utilise their natural environment and resources to generate the power they need and acquire a self-sustaining income.
This post is a case study of one of these sovereign nations at the forefront of renewable energy innovations; Switzerland.
Interesting Facts About Energy in Switzerland
Although Switzerland has seen a significant surge in renewable energies such as ambient heat, biomass, wind power and solar power since 2005, their main energy sources hinge on oil, natural gas, nuclear power and hydropower.
- 50.6% of Switzerland’s energy comes from petroleum and fuel sources, making them the main sources, electricity follows with a bit above half of that percentage with 25%, then gas with 13.5% and finally wood at 4.4%
- Hydropower plants are the primary sources of electricity, nuclear power generates about 33.5%, and thermal power plants (that do not use renewable energy) generate 2.3%
- Many Swiss citizens have strong opposition to nuclear power, and they have derailed several nuclear power plant projects. An example is the case of Canton of Aargau (Kaiseraugst) when in 1975, public protests led to the abandonment of a nuclear power plant project.
- Presently, Switzerland has set goals for an energy transition. In the Energy Strategy 2050, one of its most ambitious aims is to phase-out nuclear power use.
- 59.9% of Switzerland’s total domestic electricity production comes from its 638 hydroelectric power plants.
- The largest dam in Switzerland is The 285-metre-high Grande-Dixence dam (canton of Valais) is the third-highest gravity dam in the world and the largest dam in Switzerland.
- As of 2015, the per capita electricity consumption in Switzerland was 7,033 kWh putting it higher than the 2014 rate for France, which stood at 6,233 kWh, Germany at 6,225 kWh and the Netherlands at 6,108 kWh. However, it maintained a lower rate than Norway, which stayed at 21,091 kWh, Finland at 14,477 kWh, Sweden at 12,597 kWh, Belgium at 7,225kWh and Austria at 7,081 kWh.
(Source: Discover Switzerland)
Growth Of Switzerland’s Renewable Energy Policies
The Energy Strategy 2050 emphasises ‘increased energy savings (energy efficiency), the expansion of hydropower and new renewable energies, and, if necessary, on fossil-fuel-based electricity production.’
The system Kostendeckende Einspeisevergütung (KEV), which is the feed-in tariff (FIT) and its predecessor, the Mehrkostenfinanzierung (MKF), as well as specified targets, are the key instigators for market demand in renewable energy. Even though the budget made available has been rather limited compared to market demand.
The institutional framework in Switzerland, which supports renewable energy, has developed to grow continually without major hitches. With support from the SwissEnergy programme, this process has brought together myriad stakeholders, promoted innovative ideas, providing pertinent information, pushed market deployments and supported collaboration across different sectors.
As soon as KEV was introduced, an objective for sharing renewable energy within the national energy mix by 2030 was also introduced, providing a concrete signal for renewable energy sector investors. Within the Swiss Energy Act was included the target of an annual additional renewable electricity generation of 5400 gigawatt-hours (GWh) by 2030, of which 2000 GWh are to come via hydropower. These long-term targets build upon an important element in the overall framework for RES.
The government implemented a set of measures due to The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Action Plans of 2008 to improve renewable energy technologies’ market conditions. These measures included:
- Financial support for the replacement of existing heating systems with renewable energy, for example, heat pumps and biomass through global budgets distributed to the cantons dedicated to supporting measures
- Revision of the building standard for new buildings
Ongoing Renewable Energy Projects in Switzerland and Expert Projections
The world’s first high-altitude floating solar power plant is currently operating in the Swiss Alps. According to experts in the field, this technology could become a major part of the photovoltaic industry worldwide. Photovoltaic energy is produced by turning sunlight into electricity, and in 2013 Guillaume Fuchs got the idea to spearhead this high-altitude floating solar power plant in an alpine environment.
According to SwissInfo.ch, “The solar plant at Lac des Toules consists of 1,400 panels, laid on 36 floating structures made of aluminium and polyethene plastic anchored to the bottom of the lake. Current production exceeds 800,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, which is the equivalent of consumption for about 220 households”. Constructing a photovoltaic power plant in a human-made lake at very high altitudes means that the weather conditions are harsher and more intense with a thinner atmosphere and extreme UV rays. More electricity is generated thanks to the two-sided panels that capture the sun rays above and the reflected sun rays from the water’s surface.
Experts believe that floating photovoltaic stations such as this one are the future of solar energy because there is less need for unwarranted land use. There will also be a reduction in the competition between agriculturists, construction companies and the renewable energy sector regarding land. The water placement also leads to increased yield capabilities because it cools the panels as they sit effortlessly, extending their lifespan altogether.
Per year, nuclear power plants in Switzerland produce about 25 TWh of electricity. For the government to replace that amount of power, approximately 25,000 football fields would need to be covered with photovoltaic panels to cater to consumer needs, hence the need for more innovation.
We, at Hive Power, believe that the use of innovations plays a huge role in driving the renewable energy sector and technologies. Our Smart Grid Analytics solution offers industry participants the capacity to manage electric energy and electric grids, using data-driven AI-powered solutions, efficiently.
Let’s start with a defining statement for microgrid systems; they are self-sufficient energy systems that cater to energy needs for a small geographical area, they can have one or more kinds of energy sources such as solar panels, heat sources or wind turbines and even contain an energy storage solution, for example, batteries.
Their primary purpose is to produce sustainable power for an allocated area. These areas can be hospitals, campuses, business centres and small neighbourhoods. Microgrid systems are discussed in association with renewable energy, mainly because that is the type of energy being developed in recent years. They happen to do better than large scale grids that cater to larger populations from fossil fuel sources and are becoming increasingly accepted.
Microgrids work in an interconnected way, providing energy to buildings in the form of electricity, cooling and heating through software and digital control systems. Its major characteristics include:
- being local, which means it provides its services to nearby customers
- being independent, which means it can be disconnected from its central grid yet still function at 100%, this comes in handy in times of central outages and lastly
- being intelligent, which is a result of advanced software and management systems.
With the efficiency of microgrids, there is a pertinent need to measure their energy demand and supply, which is where Demand-Side Management comes in.
What is Demand-Side Management (DSM)?
Demand-Side Management can be explained as the “group of actions designed to efficiently manage a site’s energy consumption to cut costs incurred for the supply of electrical energy, from grid charges and general system charges, including taxes” according to Enel X. These actions are necessary for optimising energy use and saving costs on electricity charges by understanding the overall consumption costs, the amount of time this consumption occurs, and the supply and connection parameters.
Demand-Side Management is enshrined in the instability of grid systems around the world since renewable energy sources are highly penetrable including the decentralisation of their production, these cause innumerable disruptions on the microgrids and grid management services, a balance is therefore needed.
The demand and supply balance is a significant worry; the amount of energy created and fed into the grids has to match the consumption habits. Grid managers can now create energy management systems to offer grid services that are paid for, which in turn increase the costs for the electrical system.
In-depth on-site analysis has to be carried out on individual microgrid sites to properly engage in Demand-Side Management to ascertain the generation and consumption habits of customers.
All the measures used under Demand-Side Management are implemented on the generation side of the energy meter to modify consumption patterns and enable efficiency in using and managing energy loads. The measures don’t only involve energy efficiency but also something else called Demand Response (DR).
Demand Response is a technique that microgrid managers use to balance out sudden surges or plummets in consumers’ consumption of energy. DSM program participation, for now, can be voluntary or mandatory for consumers, for those that decide to volunteer, there are attractive incentives to encourage more participation. Some regulations have been introduced by most energy (electricity specifically) regulators that have encouraged the integration of Demand-Side Management at their facilities, an attempt at a level playing field for DSM.
What are the Advantages of DSM?
As referenced earlier, the major advantage of Demand-Side Management is saving and reducing unnecessary energy losses. These are the direct benefits. The indirect benefits include reducing the frequency of blackouts and the mitigation of emergencies that have to do with the energy systems.
To understand the advantages and disadvantages of DSM, it is imperative to compare it to other alternatives (Supply-Side Alternatives) such as energy generated via renewable energy, the power generated via fossil fuels, load shedding and peak power plants. It is imperative to note that Supply-Side Management deals with energy management on the other side of the meter regarding supply, the polar opposite of DSM.
|Energy via Renewable Sources||
|Energy via Fossil fuels||
|Peak Power Plants||
Advantages and disadvantages of DSM, in comparison to other alternatives. Source: Science direct
Here is a comparison of DSM’s advantages from the consumers’ perspective (customers and society) and power utilities. Source: Science Direct
|Reduced cost of operations||Energy bills are reduced due to energy-efficient equipment.||Greenhouse gasses reduction because fossil fuel power plant constructions aren’t needed|
|Reduced expenses on building power plants, costs of transmission and distribution||Power cuts are reduced, and the power supply is more reliable and stable.||Power distribution is equitable due to less disruption of power|
|Operations run efficiently||Customer satisfaction and reduced maintenance costs for energy-efficient appliances||The promotion and development of sustainable energy and efficiency in the conversion of renewable energy sources|
Demand-Side Management with Microgrids allows grid managers to observe how both systems perform in the transformation of conventional microgrids to those that run on renewable energy and how the Management of demand-side can help with the instability of renewable energy sources; how they can work with renewable energy storage systems and how they can be improved on for efficient utilisation and consumption by customers. Our Community Manager module is integrated with blockchain technology that can enable you to utilise DMS effectively and efficiently.
For a few decades, the idea of creating a faster, more decentralised web technology system which is less dependent on human interference has been a defining factor for database innovations, cue in the blockchain database, which is what cryptocurrencies are run on.
However, that is not the only use of this blockchain technology; renewable energy innovators know this. Implementing this new form of technology to execute contracts smartly to help manage energy needs seems to be the way forward.
The basic idea of the blockchain database technology is that data is introduced into a block with a specified intake capacity. Once that capacity is reached, data is rerouted to a new block that is continuously chained to the previous one. This is done chronologically so that whatever data comes in first is retained first.
The blockchain database is most commonly used to store information as a ledger of transactions for now, but many more aspects of this technology currently remain unexplored. Data entered into decentralised blockchains cannot be reversed, and so they can be view by anyone and are not controlled by any single entity.
Blockchain technology deals with the issues of security and trust in several ways. The major one is its almost impossible allowance for alteration without consensus due to hash codes’ chain reaction. Each block has created these hash codes, with the codes of the previous block and timestamps getting stored in the block following it continuously.
The ultimate goal is to create a database where digital information can be recorded and distributed without the possibility of this information being altered or edited yet remaining completely accessible.
How Does Smart Contract Work?
So far, understanding the blockchain technology has been simple enough, so will smart contracts.
These are contracts that can be digitally executed when predetermined terms and conditions are met. They are lines of code that have been previously embedded to carry out an agreed-upon command when triggered.
According to IBM blogs “The benefits of smart contracts are most apparent in business collaborations, in which they are typically used to enforce some type of agreement so that all participants can be certain of the outcome without an intermediary’s involvement.”
To wholly understand how smart contracts work here is an example. suppose you’ve ever gone through the hassle of buying a new home or getting a loan to start a business and have gotten easily turned off by all the hoops, checks and rechecks you have to be put through to get a nod from your service provider before the actual process begins. In that case, you’ll understand the stress of the situation which can drag on for months at a time, leaving you in more distress than when you started. Well, smart contracts cut out all that hassle. You can almost liken it to switching from a 1994 Macintosh to a 2021 smartwatch.
Entering and re-entering personal information, verifying identity, interacting with different intermediaries, and unnecessary fees and commissions at every step are entirely removed in smart contracts. So this means there are less third party interferences and much smoother executions of contract agreements where all parties are abreast of all details, changes and conclusions as they occur. A huge preference for companies and organisations alike.
How Can Blockchain Smart Contracts Improve The Energy Sector?
With energy evolving before our eyes from the era of fossil fuels and their effects on the earth to renewable energy sources and energy storage and management, it would be wise to seek out an innovative way of reducing the hassle of the management aspect with the blockchain technology and smart contracts.
Bridging the trust gap is a critical factor of smart contracts. If your information is already stored on the blockchain, it is readily available for review and decisions can be made about agreements, payments and deals within shorter periods.
Here are some key benefits of smart contracts:
- Trust: because Smart contracts work with preinstalled code they are executed once predetermined rules are adhered to without third party involvement and, transparency is evident, all information is shared with involved participants
- Security: blockchain technology works with code, all data is encrypted making it increasingly difficult for hackers to have a field day because all records are linked to previous and subsequent records with time stamps and hash codes making any alteration completely affect the whole database, to change anything would involve changing all the information on the blockchain
- Accuracy: without excessive human interference the execution of smart contract orders happens seamlessly and according to exact requests entered into the blockchain, so there is less of a possibility of human error
- Speed: information on the blockchain is automated saving you the stress of unending paperwork or manually correcting and filling documents every time a contract is needed, it does the job in half the time traditional contracts would take
- Immutability: in blockchain, more blocks can always be added but not removed, so records of every transaction are permanent, this increases trust between all participants
- Cost-saving: with the expulsion of unnecessary intermediaries less money will be needed to complete agreements or execute contracts, this will only happen when all other benefits are fulfilled and trusted
Smart contracts are executed through codes that follow the “if/when/then” statements stored on the blockchain database. In the energy sector accuracy, trust, security and saving cost is paramount, and these are the major advantages of smart contracts linked to the blockchain.
In contemporary energy management systems, which usually involve the generation of orders, trade compliance, managing orders, price delivery, exchange execution and settlement accounting, are all time-consuming. The lack of flexibility allows for too many complications tying in several intermediaries.
As a grid operator, smart contracts and decentralised software guaranteed by blockchain technologies can be utilised to create a seamless, secure and efficiently distributed energy system promising to solve at least 80% of these highlighted pitfalls.
Electricity is not only created when it’s needed but also stored on a large scale for easier distribution in response to its demands and supply, which is what necessitates grid energy storage. And with the advancement of renewable energy production around the world, the future of grid energy storage is slowly shifting from complete dependency on fossil fuels to throwing renewable energy sources (RES) into the mix, and ultimately only utilising RES in the production and distribution of energy for a cleaner environment.
According to Science Direct, “Energy storage is defined as the conversion of electrical energy from a power network into a form in which it can be stored until converted back to electrical energy”.
In essence, methods of energy storage work the same as the battery of your mobile phone. If you have to constantly keep your phone plugged in to use it, it will tend to put some restraints on its most basic uses, like being an actual “mobile phone” instead of becoming a “dormant phone”. That wasn’t the idea at first, was it?
Creating a battery pack that can be recharged at your convenience with the ability to hold the “electrical energy” needed to keep your mobile phone running while you go about your daily activities was a better answer to the dormant phone debacle, and now this idea is being innovatively recreated on a larger scale. Think, massive energy storage plants like silo farms, except for energy.
Importance of Grid Energy Storage
Yale Environment says that “experts believe widespread energy storage is key to expanding the reach of renewables and speeding the transition to a carbon-free power grid”. Over time batteries have been observed to be capable of storing and discharging energy exceeding periods that consistently become longer, making power capacity expand exponentially.
There is always a need to store excess energy for increased demand, and with renewable energy sources, the need is mostly tied to the uncontrollable variations in weather patterns.
For example, you can get solar energy during the day when the sun is out, but what happens at night when electrical energy is needed?
Or, in the situation where we can get the bulk of hydroelectric power from large water sources, but these sources are disturbed especially in rainy seasons?
The answer will turn out to be that energy that has already been produced will have to be pooled from elsewhere. Like mobile phone batteries just lying in wait for when needed, a wider variety of grid energy storage options are essential, so that there will be less dependency on the fluctuations or variations in weather or energy sources.
What are the Grid Energy Storage Options?
The electrical grids need a stable system that provides a balance between supply and distribution, many methods have been applied since the discovery of electricity to keep up with these demands so here are a few energy storage options that can be integrated into the grid systems that are worthy of note:
1. Tesla Powerwall/Powerpacks
These are lithium-ion batteries for home and grid use. According to Tesla “Powerpacks house, the world’s most sophisticated batteries with AC-connected energy storage system and everything needed to connect to a building or utility network. It dramatically simplifies installation, integration and future support, offering system-wide benefits that far outweigh those of standalone batteries.” It focuses on peak shaving, load shifting, emergency backup and demand response. A persuasive example is Hornsdale Power Reserve in Australia, where it was commissioned in 2017.
2. Redox flow batteries
These are a special kind of electrochemical battery cells that allow chemical energy provided by to chemical components that are dissolved in liquids that are pushed through the system on separate sides of a membrane to create stored energy. Essentially chemical energy is turned into electrical energy through reversible oxidation and reduction.
3. Flywheel energy storage
These can be found on wind farms such as that owned by the KEA electric cooperative in Alaska. This ETS harnesses the power of the wind to create and store energy. It works by accelerating a flywheel rotor to immense speeds of about 20,000 to 50,000 RPMs and keeping the energy in the system as rotational energy that can be extracted when needed.
4. Thermal energy storage
These are mainly used for heating and cooling applications. The idea behind this EST is to heat or cool a storage medium so that the energy stored within can be utilised when needed. The most popular of which is sensible heat storage which concentrates on storing thermal heat by raising the temperature of a solid or liquid, examples are gravel, ground or soil, pebbles and bricks. The Crescent Dunes solar energy project in Nevada is an example of this ETS that can store up to 1.1 GWh of energy which is equal to 10 hours of full power energy setting it apart from most of its predecessors.
5. Pumped-storage hydroelectric stations
These follow the process of electrically pumping water from a lower reservoir to an upper one where the hydroelectric station will then contain the water to create and store more energy. They are used during off-peak seasons to store water that can be used to generate energy when needed at peak seasons. An example is the Grand Maison Dam can power up within three minutes to feed up to 1.8GW of electricity into the French national electrical grid during peak demand.
6. Compressed air energy storage
This sees air becoming pressurised and stored underground until it’s needed, similarly to the process of hydroelectric energy conversion and storage. Excess electrical energy is stored as high-pressure air in large tanks or salt caverns and spaces. To revert it to electrical energy, the compressed air is pushed through a turbine. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Bonneville Power Administration have undertaken a project to “evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of developing compressed air energy storage in the unique geologic setting of inland Washington”.
At Hive Power, we strongly believe that the future relies on the cohesive synergy of all these elements, technologies and innovations. Power generation, infrastructure, energy sources, and storage grids need to be designed to feed off each other producing stable and reliable energy sources for day to day use while also helping to reduce fossil fuel emissions. The future of Grid energy storage is smart, renewable and sustainable.