The existing energy sector has its systems and organization. The grid controls all forms of power distribution and is more like transferring power from a source to different receiving ends. However, with the inclusion of renewable energy, the need for decentralized energy resources cannot be overemphasized, and the NEMoGrid project achieves this.
Renewable energy sources are diverse, making them of various applications, and they have different capacities. Also, the amount of energy produced always needs proper regulation because of fluctuations. The NEMoGrid project aimed to make market designs that fit in, especially for energy communities. This way, optimal integration results occur with renewables on the grid.
The NEMoGrid project rounded off this past year (2020). Also, earlier this year, we conducted some evaluations. An important strategy used in this application is blockchain technology. There are nine (9) partners that synergized to make this project a success. The partners are the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI), Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen research – Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung, Baden-Württemberg (ZSW), the professorship Cognitive and Engineering Psychology at the Chemnitz University of Technology (TU Chemnitz), Sustainable Innovation (SUST), Wüstenrot, Ngenic, Sonnen, Upplands Energi and Hive Power.
Problems Solved by NEMoGrid
Some other market models existed before the concept of decentralized energy resources used in the NEMoGrid. They had their limitations, and those particular issues became solved in the NEMoGrid project. Some of these problems include:
- Lack of flexibility in double auction markets – the double auction market is not flexible enough to regulate market participants. It involves a high number of participants who have to provide their energy forecasts and some other information. The double auction market could also easily get manipulated to the advantage of any market actor.
- The possibility of the iterative price discovery mechanism being prone to collusion – this method is highly dependent on initial declarations and capitalizes on flexibility. It is not a mechanism that can easily fish out such culprits because of the information available from the start.
How NEMoGrid Works – Decentralized Energy Resources
There are various actors in the market mechanism used in the NEMoGrid project. They include prosumers, energy communities, distribution system operators, middle actors (aggregators, balance-responsible parties, and virtual power plants), and legislators who work with energy regulators. In addition, NEMoGrid applies the distributed control theory to overcome the challenges of other market methods.
Some things influenced the choice of markets mechanisms, including:
- non-complex nature
- robust price formation
- clearing in pseudo-real-time, say every 15 minutes
Beyond meeting these, the market formulation that NEMoGrid operates considers decentralized energy resources. Its settings involve two factors – allowance for a group of end-users to control alterable loads and an independent system operator with a defined business model. These two factors make for a spread in control.
The end users can always control the usage of some devices and loads. These loads include heat pumps, electric boilers, and the likes. For being this flexible, the end-users get a reward from the distributed capital gain. The business model exploited by the independent system operator is such that it does the redistribution based on how flexible the end-users are.
Hive Power’s Role in NEMoGRid
Energy communities have a naturally decentralized structure. The structure entails the smart meters that collect, process, and store data of prosumers. Hive Power has a solution based on blockchain technology and uses its solution in the NEMoGrid project (to effectively manage this system).
The use of blockchain still encounters some challenges that limit its adoption. These challenges (such as scalability issues and privacy) are all considered in the application by Hive Power. Furthermore, with the creation of local energy communities on the blockchain, the economic and technical points of view come into play with the Hive Platform community manager module since the goal is to optimize all resources.
Milestones and Current Progress on the NEMoGrid Project
Currently, we have completed the NEMoGrid project, and evaluation is going on. You can access the results of the user research on the NEMoGrid website. The three pilots where we evaluated this project across Europe were in:
- Rolle, Switzerland
- Björklinge, Sweden
- Wüstenrot, Germany
The peer-to-peer scenario used in the blockchain market in these energy communities proved profitable and successful when evaluated.
There are seven (7) work packages involved in the NEMoGrid project managing decentralized energy resources. They include project management (WP0), the definition of future scenarios up to 2025 (WP1), market and tariff management design (WP2), the modelling framework (WP3), social acceptance (WP4), scalability and reliability (WP5), and dissemination and reporting (WP6). At this time, we have completed everything.
Also, the project received funds from the joint programming initiative, ERA-Net Smart Energy Systems focus Initiative (Smart Grids Plus), supported by the European Union Horizon 2020 research program (under grant agreement No. 646039). Also, national funding agencies supported the partners in the NEMoGrid project (Swiss, German and Swedish). These brought it to the point of being a success.
What’s Next For NemoGrid?
Adopting the solutions proffered by NEMoGrid can be extended to more applications with increasing energy communities. However, we need the stage to allow these communities to thrive and apply the flexibility of markets. The control algorithms in the NEMoGrid project, when used, will maximize the potential of these self-consumption communities.
The coming steps in the future would involve more implementation of the solutions discovered and improvements. There would always be room for additional extensions or extensive research. At the same time, the project has already put its propositions forward in a reasonable and proven manner. Any further complications or limitations in the course of usage will be recorded and worked on as part of maintenance strategies.
PARITY is a project that revolves around a central theme described as “Pro-sumer Aware, Transactive Markets for the Valorization of Distributed flexibility enabled by Smart Energy Contracts”. With this definition, it is clear that blockchain technology is involved mainly because smart contracts are in the mix. In this project, Hive Power is responsible for implementing the blockchain Local Flexibility Market.
However, blockchain technology is not the only form of tech involved in PARITY. The IoT also has a significant role to play in this valorization process.
In simple terms, PARITY hopes to use blockchain technology and IoT to help conventional grids deal with the integration challenges of new RES by engaging end-users who will become effectively aware of prosumers to enable stable energy pricing.
What are the Objectives of PARITY?
The vision of PARITY focuses on implementing local energy sharing that helps with pricing and easing the stress on the grid as well as giving value to its flexibility sources such as EVs, heat pumps and batteries. It is also a new business model that puts prosumers on a pedestal, allowing the opportunity for energy exchange such as P2P energy trading and dynamic pricing.
This guarantees security and automation of operation through blockchain technology, smart contracts, demand-side management and the IoT.
How PARITY Works
Under the initial lab trial for PARITY, a smart contract scenario was created to monitor consumers’ energy consumption via their devices and, in turn, exchange this information with the blockchain, automatically deciding settlements and further actions. The Hosts included:
- IoT Gateways also acting as blockchain nodes
- Light devices
- HVAC devices
- Smart plugs
- Oracles; which served as a link between the physical world and virtual blockchain world
The Internet of Things (IoT) has an ecosystem involved in this project. Within this ecosystem is the IoT Gateway which is deployed on-premises with an Information Management cloud infrastructure that helps with data processing and persistence.
A gateway that enables communication between the Building WSN and the IoT cloud and ambient sensing, control and sub-metering data provision through multiprotocol gateway communicating with a wide variety of off-the-shelf sensors make up part of this ecosystem.
A few other critical elements of this ecosystem are:
- The Information Management cloud normalization.
- Semantic annotation.
- Compression of data and calculation of KPIs.
While within the blockchain ecosystem, PARITY Cosmos sidechain aims to interconnect with the Cosmos blockchain, support the market and smart contract aspect, and facilitate interconnection with other authorized off-chain parties through relevant interfaces.
The Oracles involved in PARITY are responsible for verifying and transmitting real-world events in a trusted and secure way by triggering smart contract transactions and retrieving anonymized data from specific prosumer service legal agreements (SLAs) to be used as key performance indicators to the blockchain smart contracts framework.
The Local Flexibility Market
Local flexibility of PARITY enables multiple uses across the board, like in prosumer apps that include informative billing and automated profiling. The Local Flexibility Market also runs on the Hive blockchain platform, while PARITY Oracles and DER dispatch are part of the multiple-use cases enabled by PARITY.
The Local Market design of PARITY follows a defining structure:
- Market participants which include Distribution System Operators (DSOs), prosumers, aggregators and market operators
- Instruments for providing flexibility such as market-based and control-based instruments (LEM & LFM)
- Market operator
- Local scope of the market
- Coordination between flexibility requesting parties
Two markets are introduced within this concept, the Local Electricity Market (LEM) and the Local Flexibility Market (LFM).
- LEM encourages P2P trading among prosumers and is operated by Local Electricity Market Operator (LEMO)
- LFM, however, activates flexibility for the needs of DSOs. Under this, the Explicit LFM design is a market platform operated by the Local Flexibility Market Operator (LFMO), while Implicit LFM market design is implicitly integrated into the LEM. DSOs can impose varying grid prices, and prosumers can react to this via their trades on the LEM.
The Roles of Stakeholders
Distribution System Operators have a traffic light concept that outlines their response to specific regulations within PARITY called the traffic light concept.
- BLACK means a grid outage, and at this stage, the DSOs disconnect everything in the constrained area for the safety of the grid
- RED means distribution grid is constrained; here, DSOs can override market-based contracts and perform direct load control
- YELLOW means the DSO has forecasted constraint violations; here, Implicit and Explicit LFM are activated
- GREEN means there are no constraint violations, and DSOs perform active grid monitoring
ESCOs (Energy service companies) are also stakeholders in PARITY because they focus on developing and building financing projects that save energy, reduce energy costs, and decrease the cost of maintenance and operation on the customers’ end. They offer improvements in energy efficiency based on a performance contracting method, so compensation for projects is directly linked to actual energy cost savings. In PARITY, ESCOs will enable fair pricing at all ends.
Risks and Barriers Encountered With PARITY
Obstacles that stand to hinder the fast adoption of PARITY include:
- Administrative barriers like lack of regulation and charging cost rules
- Standardization barriers like diversity and interoperability
- Trust barriers such as emerging technologies, security and privacy
- Technical barriers like networking and reliability
- Cost barriers such as pricing and margins
Pilot Sites And Use Cases
Pilot Sites have been spread across four European countries; Spain, Sweden, Greece and Switzerland. They range from office buildings, residential buildings to fuel stations for EV charging points.
There have been several use cases in PARITY, one of them focused on congestion management by DSO through the operation of LFM to increase DER penetration. The steps taken included detecting the network colour by DSO, activating LFM and mapping DER, which resulted in dynamic activation of flexibility in real-time to eliminate congestion.
PARITY is all about fairness and integration of all platforms and parties involved in the electricity distribution process. The project uses new-age technology to solve conventional and innovative challenges hoping to ease the stress in all quarters and improve sustainability. As Partners in the PARITY project, Hive Power understands the objective all too well and we’re seeking to chart a new course in the grid technologies industry.
As the use of fossil fuels increasingly becomes a thing of concern, renewable energy, on the other hand, is picking up steam as a more sustainable and widely accepted alternative for energy production and consumption. Renewable energy technologies (RES) are getting ever more advanced with big tech companies such as Tesla and countries worldwide trying to outdo themselves and demonstrate the innovative potential of these new technologies from replenishable sources.
The objectives of these projects primarily are to slowly phase out pollutant fossil fuels, meet expected renewable energy targets, and optimize the new energy exportation landscape.
Here is a list of five projects from around the world to look out for in 2021:
The TuNur project is a power plant with a 2,250MW solar CSP located in the Sahara Desert. It also has a 2 GW HVDC submarine cable that runs from Tunisia to Italy. The plan is to generate around 9,400GWh of total renewable energy dispersed every year to other European countries such as Germany and Switzerland.
The Tunisian government has found that they have an abundance of solar and wind renewable energy sources that can be utilised to yield the set target of 30% renewable energy use by 2030. This has allowed them to enter into partnerships to harness this opportunity and promote a series of projects in all concerned technologies and varying capacities. One of these is the one with Nur Energie, named TuNur which is looking to become the leading renewable energy developer in the region.
TuNur is concerned with filling the renewable energy gap in Europe and consolidating the immense development of solar and wind energy in Tunisia and North Africa.
This project is overseen by ConnectGen developing solar projects in Texas, specifically southwestern Leon County. Their large-scale solar project expects to generate energy enough to power more than 50,000 homes.
ConnectGen chose Leon County for solar technologies development due to its proximity to an already existing transmission system, which at the start of 2020 had produced enough power to supply 498.637 homes in Texas. It is expected that there will be a 13,310 MW added capacity introduced to the Texas renewable energy sector over the next five years.
Construction of the Pecan Prairie solar project area will begin in 2021 with operations to begin in 2022. This project’s advantages include tax revenue generation for the Lone Star state, creation of local jobs, and community support. ConnectGen focuses on developing best-in-class wind, solar, and energy storage projects in America to increase the supply of low-cost clean energy domestically produced.
This project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is meant to be developed in seven phases beginning with Inga 3, which has 2 phases. The hydropower use of the Inga river in the DRC is very complex and already has two facilities, Inga 1 and Inga 2, built in 1972 and 1982 respectively which currently provide a substantial amount of grid electricity. This 5-dam complex is expected to generate 42GW of power, holding 52 turbines each, which would make it the world’s largest hydroelectric dam at completion.
Congo cannot utilise all of the power that this project will generate, so, they will export most of it to other African countries such as South Africa via a power line running through Zambia and Namibia. The plans for this project started as far back as the ’50s when some European countries expressed interest, such as France, Belgium and China, not eliminating a few African countries.
Inga 3 will approximately cost $14 billion with Angola committed to buying 5000MW once operational. However, this project is overshadowed by a few concerns surrounding environmental impact as per loss of biodiversity, and social impact in the form of displaced communities.
Hornsea 2 has been in development since 2015 by the Danish company Ørsted intended to be part of the larger Hornsea zone a few kilometres of the coast of East Riding, Yorkshire. The power of the wind is the core energy source for this project. Ørsted is the leading company in offshore wind utilisation. It has taken up the responsibility of building the world’s largest wind farm off the UK’s coast generating clean energy for UK homes.
Hornsea 2 will have 165 turbines with a capacity of 1.4GW providing power to well over 1.3 million homes. In 2019 onshore cable construction was started with the wind farm and HVAC substation. Turbine installation will commence in 2021 after which startup should commence. The wind farm is expected to connect to the grid at the North Killingholme National Grid transmission station in North Lincolnshire.
Saint Brieuc has been projected to have a total installed capacity of 496 MW, which should generate clean energy for approximately 835,000 people, and it is located 16 kilometres off the coast of France with 62 SG 8.0-167 DD turbines.
Brittany, where Saint Brieuc bay is situated, is prone to immense winds and high tides. Hence, it makes sense that it would be one of the first large-scale offshore wind farms to receive all the necessary documentation and permits from the French government for its creation and operation. Offshore operations are expected to start in 2021 with Dutch marine contractor Van Oord installing the substation and pin piles. The total investment in this project is said to be 2.4 billion euros.
Our list is in no way exhaustive because renewable energy has slowly grown from being a niche only sector to a completely pivotal market creating high demands that must be met. Projects are springing up across the globe in the private and public sectors, from Europe to Africa to Australia to Asia and back. Clean energy seems as though it should now be crowned the ‘Pure Gold’ of our time taking over from the much-acclaimed ‘Black Gold’.