There are a host of components needed for a smart grid to function at its utmost capacity. In 2008 the Department of Energy (DOE) in America put together a task force of some of the foremost thinkers and shapers of the smart grid sector, and they agreed on a few defining characteristics of a smart grid that would be able to meet the needs it was created for; this is what they came up with:
- Enable active participation by consumers
- Accommodate all generation and storage options
- Enable new products, new services and new markets
- Provide power quality for the wide range of needs in a digital economy
- Optimise asset use and operating efficiency
- Expect and respond to system disturbance in a self-healing manner
- Operate resiliently against physical and cyber-attacks as well as natural disasters
From the list above, we see that a lot of communication and data management is necessary for the workability of smart grids, and one of the solutions to this crucial communication need is the (AMI)-advanced metering infrastructure. AMI is a foundational component that enables smart grid technology to work cohesively.
The advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is an integrated system made up of smart meters, communication networks and data management systems that allows two-way communication between the utilities provider and customer. This infrastructure is an essential step in the modernisation of grid technologies because it directly includes the customer into the working framework of the smart grid, which increases the added value to the services rendered.
Since AMI is a critical infrastructure of the smart grid, it is also deployed with its unique components:
- Smart meters and data concentrators
- Wide-area communication network (WAN)
- Meter data central (MDC) system
- Meter data management (MDM) system
- Home area network (HAN)
This is where meter management systems, or more concise, meter data management systems, come into play.
What is Meter Data Management System And How it Work?
According to OpenEI, “a meter data management system (MDMS) collects and stores meter data from a head-end system and processes that meter data into information that can be used by other utility applications including billing, customer information systems and outage management systems”.
This system is built on the MDC system, whose primary function includes the validation, estimation, and editing (VEE) of meter data that are later passed on to utility systems, even though disruption of meter data flows may occur.
An MDMS is essential to handling the large amounts of data generated through automated metering or the advanced metering infrastructure. It allows loose coupling between systems.
Several automated meter reading (AMR) systems send their data through their respective head-end servers for the VEE routine to fill gaps in their data, creating clean, integrated and bill-ready data sets. Other utility systems like a data warehouse, outage management, or billing also get their data for their specific purposes from MDMS.
Some AMR/AMI systems that provide meter data to MDMS are gas meters, electric meters and water meters. Compared to conventional grid systems, MDMS enables the consumer/customer to view all their consumption data under one structure, with the ability to manage both analogue and interval data to optimise usage and costs.
The Role Of MDMs
Despite its defining role as a data source, the MDMS plays some other functional roles within the larger IT ecosystem. It can be a traffic director, a data repository, a data framing engine, an infrastructure map and an asset management system.
- Traffic director: in this role, the MDMS can connect back-end applications to specific AMR/AMI systems on a dynamic basis; this makes access to data easy and transparent for users.
- Data repository: in this role, MDMS can serve as an intermediary between the back-end applications that request meter information and specific AMR/AMI systems that collect the data. While MDMS is primarily an online transaction processing system, it can act as an interim data repository.
- Data framing engine: in this role, MDMS can assign interval usage data into specific billing determinants to allow billing of complex rates. This comes in handy when customers are on particular incentives such as time-of-day or peak day pricing rate where the pricing varies exponentially.
- Infrastructure map: in this role, MDMS can save a very detailed virtual map of the electric infrastructure components and their interconnections. These components include meters, transformers, distribution circuits, substations and the like. This map is used as a connectivity model to pass that information like outage alarms to outage management systems and other notifications to their respective systems.
- Asset management system: in this role, the infrastructure map that MDMS already has can be augmented with asset data to be used as an asset management system that can come in handy for small-scale utility companies that may be unable to afford a stand-alone asset management system.
There are numerous roles the MDMS can fit into in the ever-evolving smart grid sector. It is, however, worthy to note that there are a few challenges with its deployment, such as data synchronisation, system integration, scalability, system configuration and time synchronisation, which all have to do with the massive amount of data that runs through the MDM system.
Once the amount of data finds a perfect working synergy within the MDMS, these challenges should be a thing of the past.
The Future of MDMS?
The MDMS is meant to provide effective integration with reduced infrastructure complexity that can easily accommodate any change to its numerous parts without affecting the whole system.
In the global energy market, there is growing consumer demand and the rise of the prosumer, driving an increase in the deployment of smart grids, which need working and sustainable components to meet these demands and boost market growth. Like the Hive Platform, which easily plugs to DSO’s MDMs as a data source for our algorithms and smart grid analytics modules.
Other factors like integration of AMI systems with cloud computing and Internet-of-Things (IoT), extensive research and development will drive the global MDMS market further than anticipated.
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.
Smart grids are the future innovations when it comes to sustainable energy distribution. This also involves a huge amount of data that needs processing at a constant rate. Data management here is essential to the proper running and stability of smart grids and their functionality.
What Is Data Management?
The term ‘Data Management’ refers to the process or practice of collecting, compiling and using information securely and efficiently while saving costs. This activity aims to enable the analysis of information when needed to make sense of the very vast quantities of data at our disposal today. However, data management is streamlined to just the information required to run the grids effectively when it has to do with intelligent grid systems.
Another reason for proper data management in grid systems is for corrective actions to be taken when the need presents itself so that grid participators can maximize benefits within the energy sector. The scope of data management is vast but can be understood within the following factors:
- To create, access, and update data across a differing data tier
- Store data across numerous platforms
- Provide high availability and disaster recovery
- Use data in a growing variety of apps, analytics, and algorithms
- Ensure the privacy and security of data
- Archive and destroy data following retention schedules and compliance requirements
To get the most out of data management, organizations and administrators need data management systems that are peculiar to their requirements. The point is to find the necessary information for analysis.
Data Management In Smart Grid Systems
Smart grids come with their peculiar advantages and changes that involve the information and communication technologies systems sector. These new changes include:
- New forms of information flow coming from the electricity grid
- New players like decentralized producers of renewable energies, prosumers and involved consumers
- New uses linked with DERs such as electric vehicles and connected houses
- New communicating equipment such as smart meters, sensors and remote-control points
These changes will bring a huge amount of information to grid operators and administrators due to the many variables involved in energy production, distribution and consumption. Smart grids are seen as a concrete solution to the concurrent changes hitting the electrical energy sector, and they help with the efficient integration of the entire network. So, because smart grids ensure high integration of the electric grid from production to consumption, large amounts of data are expected to pass through.
This data is not sorted as in conventional grids that would, for example, have one meter reading total consumption in a month. With a feature such as a smart meter that could be set to send consumer readings every 15 minutes, smart grids get larger amounts of data per time set, which means more information to sort through, with higher analysis thresholds. This is why data management is required; intelligent grids need to deal with high-velocity data, storage capacity and advanced data analytics.
There are two main data systems linked with smart grids that we will discuss here; Communication systems and Information systems.
Communication systems in smart grid data management
Communication is a crucial factor in any relationship, even between computer components. In smart grids, maintaining that connection so that data can be relayed between components is essential. This system needs to be secure and capable of high bandwidth and speed. Three types of networks fall under this system, Home Area Networks (HANs), Business Area Networks (BANs) and Neighbourhood Area Networks (NANs). These network types can further be classified into two broad categories, which are wired and wireless technologies.
Information systems in smart grid data management
These are components of the smart grids that communicate together for scalability and flexibility of the grid. They control and load data from the field then use it to extract values and understand the condition of the lines, equipment, energy use etc. There are several components within the information system such as:
- Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is a safe and reliable system of software and hardware elements used for monitoring control within the grid. The system controls energy distribution processes, monitors and collects real-time data, keeps records of events and interacts with devices through a human-machine interface. SCADA can also be applied in industrial sectors like energy, oil and gas, transportation and recycling. These systems are essential because they help to maintain efficiency, process data more intelligent and mitigate downtime with system issues.
- Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) helps with cost and time efficiency by compiling data about energy consumption and production. AMI creates two-way communication meters between consumers and utility operators that enable high-frequency data collection of energy consumption within intelligent grids. This gives utility operators the ability to modify the different service level parameters for customers and gather data on usage frequencies and fluctuations.
- Outage management system (OMS) is vital in minimizing the effects and diagnosing the causes of power outages, and improving the system’s availability and reliability. This system is capable of restoring network models after an outage has occurred. They are also capable of tracking, displaying and grouping outages.
- Customer information system (CIS) is needed to develop and understand the relationship between the utilities and consumers. It is a complete customer relationship management system that assists in obtaining customer information efficiently. It helps to provide quality services to consumers by utilizing their collected data.
- Geographic information system (GIS) is considered a visualization tool to gather information about the grid, consumers and technologies. It captures, stores, checks and displays seemingly unrelated data concerning positions on Earth’s surface, which helps to solve real-world problems through understanding spatial patterns.
- Demand response management system (DRMS) gives the utilities the ability to create automated, flexible and integrated platforms to manage demand response solutions efficiently and speedily. It is the critical link between the demand response side of the grid and the utility operators. It helps with the integration of the much-needed two-way communication between consumers and grid operators.
Daki, H., El Hannani, A., Aqqal, A. et al. Big Data management in smart grid: concepts, requirements and implementation. J Big Data 4, 13 (2017).
Data management systems maintain the effectiveness of smart grids, lower costs where necessary, increase response time, and reduce the cumbersome nature of data collection by managing them efficiently. Just as the future is catching up with far-reaching innovations, the Hive Power platform makes various technical options available, especially with robust data analytics and management tools.
The idea of simulation models has been attributed to how innovations have avoided pitfalls in the technology sector.
Simulations are imitations of a particular process or situation. In technology, simulation has a more streamlined definition that centres on creating a computer model of a proposed design for study and analysis. This step in creating technology-based products saves costs and helps in evaluating performance capabilities and product reliability. Experts can also give projections and predictions that will help with the innovative and business side of technology production.
Understanding Grid Simulation and Varying Models
If it was just a physical grid simulation, an alternating current power supply that is capable of emulating dynamic grid conditions is used to test the reliability of equipment connected to the grid. But smart grid energy simulation not only relies on the physical aspects but also combines all areas of the grid, including the electrical power, the communication technologies between all electrical network components, IT and intelligence systems, and the control centre. So, we have the hardware and software components all working in tandem to deliver the best energy results with renewables in tow.
General quantitative and qualitative simulations revolve around three ideas: event simulation, discrete event simulation, and Monte Carlo simulation. In smart grid energy simulation, the focus centres on the discrete event simulation model.
Discrete Energy Simulation
The discrete event simulation (DES) model is an approach used to model real-world systems that can be broken down into logical dynamic processes. The results may create new events that observers should take into account in a future time. The simulation makes a simple sense of information given to it and gives projections that can come in handy in future situations.
DES is used because the grid interacts with the hardware and software of energy grids and humans, including grid operators and consumers. This creates a loop of events in relation to changing time. It is then very important for simulations to occur with all aspects taken into account.
Simulations cannot give holistic results without the human factor. Despite DES being the simulation model that is generally relied on, another type that gives better results when used in conjunction with DES is an agent-based simulation (ABS).
This simulation takes it up a notch by simulating the simultaneous operations and interactions of multiple agents to recreate and predict the appearance of complex phenomena. These are computer models that are highly intuitive and attempt to capture individuals’ behaviour within society.
For smart grids to perform at the best level, analysts realise that putting both simulation types together to predict real-world user behaviour helps immensely when it has to do with calculating the impact of consumer behaviour and energy use. Accuracy is important since energy use and user behaviour tie closely to how consumers feel with changing conditions like weather.
Another popular simulation model is the In-loop model that helps keep up with innovative technology speed and maintain the highest quality services within smart grid energy solutions. Model-based simulations help to meet costs, quality and time constraints.
These in-loop model simulations can be physical or virtual prototypes or a combination of the two, adjusted to give results that are as close as possible to real-world behaviours.
Some In-loop model applications used in smart grids include:
- Hardware in the loop, according to ni.com, is a “technique where real signals from several components are connected to a test system that simulates reality, tricking the components into thinking it is in the assembled product”. This way, the simulation results are as close to reality as possible, and they only have to do with the hardware.
- Software in the loop “represents the integration of compiled production source code into a mathematical model simulation, providing engineers with a practical, virtual simulation environment for the development and testing of detailed control strategies for large and complex systems”. The major difference here is that this simulation deals with software alone.
- Model in the loop combines both of these designs for a full test of hardware and software designs to ensure the systems can give the best results.
Strengths and Opportunities in Smart Grid Energy Simulations
When reviewing strengths and opportunities in technological innovations, considerations of the future is always at the forefront, and the same goes for smart grid simulations. A major question and opportunity identified by analysts is the expected reliability of today’s smart grids in transitioning to future needs. Can they handle more complexities as efficiently as the grids we have today?
How much effect will prosumers have on the future grid systems?
In conventional grid systems, consumers are mostly passive; however, with smart grids, there’s a need for two-way information exchange, since consumers are producing energy now through DERs and can control flexible devices.
Consumers and suppliers are expected to make the grid operate in a more transparent, interactive, and efficient way, giving way to prosumers. These prosumers will be a major dictator in the future of smart grid energy as well as simulation models.
The opportunity to formally educate everyday people on these new technologies will be massive, especially with the consistent rise of a tech-dominated society. This should inspire a link between information and personal lives as far as their participation in the smart energy transition. Finally, smart grid energy simulations can supplement expert decision making and projections, allowing better-informed decisions within the energy sector. Renewables are known to be unreliable, but with simulations systems that have high prediction accuracies, grid managers can take proper measures to keep their smart grid systems efficient and reliable.
We have talked about the smart grid in our previous blog posts and its relation to energy storage, grid stability, and future power needs. It is undeniable that smart grid technology is changing the power sector; how these technologies are correctly applied matters, especially in achieving sustainability goals for a better future.
Six Smart Grid Technology Applications Leading the Change.
Conventional grid technologies perform a simple function, the transmission of electrical power generated at a central power plant. This happens with voltage transformers that increase and decrease voltage levels gradually while delivering energy to the end-users. Smart grids, however, perform all the conventional functions with the added ability or advantage of monitoring all the activities remotely for better and quicker responses and performance.
We will discuss six key applications for Smart Grid technology in this blog post. They are advanced metering infrastructure, demand response, electric vehicles, wide-area situational awareness; distributed energy resources and storage; and distribution grid management.
1. Advanced Metering Infrastructure
This is also known as AMI. It’s simply applying technologies like smart meters to help with the two-way flow of information between customers and utility agencies. This information revolves around consumption time, amount and appropriate pricing. It enables smart grids to have a wide range of functions compared to conventional grid technologies.
These functions include but are not limited to:
- Remote consumption control
- Time-based pricing
- Consumption forecast
- Fault and outage detection
- Remote connection and disconnection of users
- Theft detection and loss measurements
- Effective cash collection and debt management
Having these functions means gaining better control over power efficiency and quality in smart grids across the globe. Still, there are a few drawbacks that worry consumers and utility agencies alike, such as privacy and confidentiality issues and cybersecurity issues relating to unauthorised access to the AMI devices.
2. Demand Response
Demand response (DR) programs are recent and emerging applications for demand‐side management (DSM). Examples are applications that improve grids’ reliability by providing services such as frequency control, spinning reserves and operating reserves, and applications that help reduce wholesale energy prices and their volatility.
The development of energy regulatory commissions with open wholesale markets and policy support has enabled demand response applications in grid technology. There are two categories of demand response programs from the customer perspective:
- Price‐based DR where customers adjust their electricity consumption in response to the time-variant prices created by their utility agencies to maximise their electricity usage and save on bills
- Incentive‐based DR where benefits are increased by promoting an incentive to influence customer behaviours to change their demand consumptions
DR provides the opportunity for consumers to reduce or shift their electricity usage during peak periods through the programs mentioned above, giving them a huge role in the operation of electric grids with the hopes of balancing supply and demand needs.
3. Electric Vehicles (EVs)
This may seem like a misplaced application for smart grids, but with the obvious electrification of the transport industry, EVs are a preferred solution to global warming issues. In terms of smart grid technologies, plug-in electric vehicles’ introduction comes with myriad challenges and opportunities to sustain power systems. If EVs are added to the grids as regular loads, then there will be no allowance for flexibility of load variables, which will endanger the grid as a whole.
However, these challenges can be managed successfully with controlled approaches, especially when charging is shifted to low‐load hours. EVs can also promote Smart grid sustainability by operating as distributed storage resources (V2G) that contribute to ancillary services such as frequency regulation, peak‐shaving power for the system or the integration of fluctuating renewable resources.
4. Wide-Area Situational Awareness
This refers to the implementation of a set of technologies designed to improve the monitoring of the power system across large geographic areas — effectively providing grid operators with a broad and dynamic picture of the functioning of the grid.
WASA systems provide operators and engineers with the right information at the right time for efficient operation and analysis of the power system, according to SELinc. The ultimate goal here remains the same: to understand and optimise the smart grid’s reliability through its performance and anticipate where necessary changes need to occur before problems abound.
Smart grids use phasor measurement units as sensors for collecting data over large geographical areas making phasor measurement sensors the bane of wide-area measurement systems. They can be relied upon to relay situational awareness over large interconnected areas through:
- Real-time monitoring
- Prediction of future disturbances
5. Distributed Energy Resources and Storage
Distributed energy resources are also known as DER and are part of Distributed generation; they refer to energy sources or generation units that are smaller and located on the consumer side of the electricity generation meter.
Energy is generated from sources (mostly renewable) near the point of use rather than from a centralised system. Some examples are rooftop solar photovoltaic units and wind generating units.
While DER storage involves systems that store distributed energy for later use. This is done with two components; DC-charged batteries and bi-directional inverters. It helps in balancing energy generation, demand and supply. Some other key features are:
- Peak shaving
- Load shifting
- Voltage regulation
- Renewable integration
- Back-up power
6. Distribution Grid Management
A distribution grid includes all the equipment needed for energy distribution, such as wires, poles, transformers etc. The management of the distribution grid in smart grids has to do with having a system “capable of collecting, organising, displaying and analysing real-time or near real-time electric distribution system information” as needed.
This system can also allow grid operators to plan and place complex tasks to increase efficiency, meet targets, prevent failures and optimise energy flow. It can also work hand in hand with other systems to create a combined outlook of distributed operations.
Smart grid technologies are created to be smart, with the capabilities of predetermining faults that can then be prevented, cut costs where possible, and deliver the best value to consumers when needed.
The driving force of human existence has been to find solutions. As innovations become a reality, we have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of putting them to everyday use.
It is important to understand Grid stability, especially when used alongside the term “renewable energy sources”. Conventional power grids are difficult to run with resources other than fossil fuels, and they are also cost-intensive.
Understanding Grid Stability
It’s simple; there needs to be a balance in production and consumption within an electrical grid. For there to be stability, the energy generated must be equal to the energy consumed. So, “unreliable” energy sources don’t fare well with conventional grids.
If a power grid will remain stable, it needs to respond to volatility in voltage and frequency disturbances. For example, if more power is generated than it’s consumed or more energy consumed from the grid than generated, complete adjustments are necessary within an acceptable timeframe so that the frequency disturbances and power outages get balanced. Equilibrium is what is most important.
Let’s Bring Renewable Energy Into The Picture.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) report, the renewable energy sector’s growth is set to skyrocket by a whopping 50% between 2019 and 2024. With solar photovoltaic energy leading the way, closely followed by wind and hydropower projects – which are gaining traction with speedy rollouts, the fastest observed in four years. This growth is happening because of the reduced costs of renewable energy technologies, global set targets and decarbonisation policies, and the increasingly high electricity demand.
Despite the popular knowledge that renewables are a new form of technology, facts show that they have been around for a while. Fossil fuels were only preferred because of their storage capacities and reliability compared to weather fluctuations in renewable sources.
When there is a lack of a specific renewable energy source, there is always a need to balance that lack. For example, if a drought occurs in an area that relies on hydroelectric power, there’ll be a significant disruption in electric energy production, storage, and consumption.
Relying on renewable energy sources brings its share of challenges that need definitive solutions. These solutions can be storage options, handling fluctuations and specifications for particular RE sources; (for example, solar power solutions would differ, if not slightly, from solutions for thermal energy sources or hydropower, wind farms, and the rest).
What Are The Grid Stability Problems With Renewable Energy Sources?
- Overloading of existing transmission lines, which can lead to thermal overloads.
- Disruption of the grid’s threshold frequency and voltage limits.
These are usually caused by increased demand for renewable energy generation that the conventional grid infrastructure cannot handle; and the decentralised energy production gathering momentum in the increasing renewable-energy-friendly world.
In recent years, an increasing number of renewable energy generating assets are sprouting in locations where the grids were not designed to handle such load capacities or volatility, leading to serious instability.
At first, renewable energy penetration into the power grids was minimal. Connection or disconnection could happen at will, but with larger penetrations nowadays, this is nearly impossible. They create bottlenecks and imbalance in some key areas with the supply of reactive power.
Voltage levels in a grid network are influenced by reactive power. While the frequency can be stable across the grid network, voltages are determined by the recurrent real and reactive power supply and demand. If the grid network does not have enough reactive power injected at the right locations, the transmission system’s voltage levels will exceed planned operational limits.
How They Can Be Solved.
To ensure a stable and reliable grid, redistribution or ‘re-dispatch’ is necessary within the networks. The n – 1 criterion allows for this to happen. The n – 1 criterion effectively means that despite congestion that does occur, a particular line’s failure must not lead to the whole system’s failure; the current must always have an alternative route giving way for current-relief on the network. A system can tolerate the failure of only one component within itself.
Grid managers always have to be on top of this growing problem of increased injections of renewables to the grid networks and tally these increases with their corresponding costs.
- Installing a huge number of reactive power compensation plants and building HVDC transmission lines from the generation centres to the load centres
- The use of conventional load flow controllers (however, these prove to be too slow when compared to the rate at which renewable energy use is growing)
- A dynamic load flow management system (which seems to be the best option) found in a unified power flow controller that can be fast-reacting. This solution should keep power lines within the n – 1 criterion balanced by managing both series and parallel compensation, which would keep the electricity on and flowing at optimum.
Working renewables into conventional grid systems is necessary. Using any or all of these solutions can guarantee better working grids compatible with growing needs. Much more, as a grid operator, you must take advantage of smart grid management solutions, like Hive Power, with modules that deliver the following:
- Analytics for the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)
- Analytics for optimal grid management
- Energy data forecasting for loads and production
- Preventive analysis of future grid violations
- Generic visualisation/monitoring tools.
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.
You may have heard of the Vehicle-to-Grid(V2G) business model for electric cars, but no one has convinced you of how viable and profitable it could be if done on a larger scale. Then stay-on to this blog-post, as we have the experts’ answers for you.
This article explores the practical business model for V2G. Primarily for a fleet manager, and how much benefits you can harness from such a model. We are aware that there are still many people sceptical about the success and profitability of the V2G business model; a careful read of this will resolve your doubts.
An Overview of What V2G Technology Involves
Vehicle-to-Grid is a bi-directional interaction between an electric vehicle and an energy distribution grid. With V2G, an electric car can send its stored energy to the network and vice versa when the vehicle’s battery pack needs to be charged.
For V2G to be possible, a connecting system that allows the bi-directional flow of energy and information must be present. One of the communication interfaces is called the ISO/IEC 15118 – “an international standard defining a vehicle to grid (V2G) communication interface for bi-directional charging/discharging of electric vehicles.” CharIN, a Berlin-based company, recently began the implementation of the ISO 15118 communication interface – also called Plug and Charge.
Another protocol that’s already in use is the CHAdeMO – a DC charging protocol for EVs; CHAdeMO Association, a Japanese-based company, develop it. Car manufacturers like Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Tesla, Kia, Mazda, Subaru, BD and Peugeot already have the CHAdeMO interface in place in some of their EVs.
It’s sufficient to say that a couple of EVs are ready for the V2G technology application; however, what are the benefits and who are the stakeholders?
A Business Case For V2G
As energy produced from renewable sources is increasing, there’s been a challenge of effectively distributing the energy we produce because renewable energy sources (RES) have their peculiarities. For instance, wind turbines and photovoltaic cells produce electricity when the wind blows, and the sun shines. Since these are not predictable, we must manage the energy produced effectively.
“Effectively” means that when the produced energy from a RES is not needed, the energy is stored; and when it’s needed, you supply it back into the grid. You can easily proffer a solution for building battery bank centres, but there are consequences of capital and profitability.
Instead of constructing battery banks, there are impressive batteries with substantial capacities already present in electric vehicles that we can harness. And fortunately, EVs now have a wider spread across the world, and we’ve predicted the spread to increase.
An important question that may pop-up is – won’t the car be in-use? Research shows that most cars are in use about 2-3 hours of the day. Most times, we park our vehicles. It’s possible to exploit this situation for V2G, especially if the EV owner follows a patterned charge-and-use cycle; which is why using V2G for a company fleet proves to be the most productive business model.
Therefore, this leaves us with a large pool of mobile battery capacity that the grid can adopt for temporary energy storage. Aside from storing energy, we can use V2G to regulate the grid’s frequency and also manage the energy demand response during peak and off-peak periods.
All these said, the adoption of V2G adds value to these stakeholders:
- Utilities: V2G services can help to store and manage energy produced from RES. It’s also an economical solution for ancillary services in a grid.
- DSOs can adopt V2G services as a demand balancing mechanism and load control within a local grid.
- The EV owner enjoys monetary perks and favourable charging conditions.
- The EV Fleet manager is the focus of the article and thus deserves that we discuss separately. A company fleet manager also falls under this category.
Indirectly, adopting V2G saves the environment by promoting renewable energy sources and avoiding the production of new Lithium-ion batteries(whose manufacturing process can be harmful to the environment.)
How Can an EV Fleet Manager Benefit From The V2G Business Model?
For an individual user, V2G offers minimal benefit in comparison with the amount of investment that you will need for running a full V2G service. However, a fleet manager with access to a significant number of EVs can add a new source of revenue by adopting V2G services for the EVs managed by his/her company.
An EV fleet manager can provide V2G business services for frequency control or for managing peak shaving.
Frequency Control V2G business Model:
Through active communication with the grid, the EVs in a fleet supply energy or draw energy from the grid in response to its current frequency value. This model also favours the life-span of the EV’s batteries as it involves a shallow charge/discharge cycle of the battery.
Managing Peak Shaving V2G business Model:
During peak periods, the EVs supply energy to the grid to meet the excessively high demand for electricity. While during the off-peak hours, you can charge up your EVs to their normal state. Unlike the frequency control model, this reduces the life-span of the vehicle’s battery.
The analysis below is an excerpt from Kaufmann, A. (2017). Vehicle-to-Grid Business Model–Entering the Swiss Energy Market (Doctoral dissertation, University of St. Gallen).
“Assuming a 10kW bidirectional charger, and an EV available for V2G services 12 hours a day on average. The revenue accumulated over one month is 10kW x (12hr x 30days) x 0.029CHF/kWh = 104 CHF as a capacity price only.”
According to the analysis, the revenue you can generate per month from one EV is approximately $105, which sums up to $1,260 per year. A fleet with 20 EVs can produce up to $25,200 annually. Fifty EVs will generate $63,000 annually – this’ just an example as V2G services can be dynamic.
To boost revenue generation, an EV fleet manager can decide to target EV users with a more organised movement pattern and charging sequence.
Operating a V2G business service as a fleet manager will require an active management system that allows you to optimise your processes and provide your fleet services more efficiently. Our Hive Manager solution is integrated with blockchain technology to enable you to control your EV fleet system locally effectively.
As an energy consumer, your general expectation is for the lights to go on whenever you flip a switch. When you plug a device into any socket in your home, you expect the power to flow immediately. That’s if you have paid your bills on time of course.
You may base your expectations on your trust of the regional electricity grid, which works on the premise that the grid has an endless supply of power. Yet, the truth is far more intricate. This article focuses on how your electric grid works and the role played by lithium-ion batteries.
The Grid: What is it, and how does it work?
The electricity you use in your home or workplace is delivered to you through a complex network of power transmission lines. These power transmission lines and their electrical components collectively make up the electrical grid network.
The grid is designed to deliver power seamlessly whenever you need it. However, the distribution of electricity is a lot more complicated than flipping a switch. The grid connects you to a wide variety of electric power producers from various locations. These power plants also generate electricity from a wide range of sources, including fossil fuels, solar, wind, and hydropower, among others. The grid relies on several tech solutions to do its job effectively.
The Grid: Managing Electricity Demand and Supply
Electricity presents a façade that it is always available in your power outlets waiting to be used, because, when you flip your switch, the grid delivers your power immediately. Yet, the production and consumption of electricity vary throughout a 24-hour cycle.
Your grid operators are continually adjusting power systems to balance the different supply and demand of electricity. During the day, most of the power in urban centres are consumed in offices and factories when people go to work. Yet at night, the bulk of electricity demand is in residential areas to power and light up homes.
The growing popularity of renewable energy has added to the dynamics that grid operators face. The power output of most renewable energy plants varies according to the availability of the resource, which is evident in the cases of wind and solar energy. Wind power is only available when it is windy and solar energy when it is sunny. As such, the grid operators need to manage their electricity supply as well to enhance reliability.
Various countries in Europe and other parts of the world have prioritized renewable energy supply. In these cases, electricity generated from renewable resources must be purchased immediately. Yet, renewable energy plants often produce more power than the grid requires. The grid operators can shut down fossil fuels and thermal power plant to preserve fuel when the electricity demand is low. Yet, you cannot switch off the sun or wind. This excess supply of electricity is the reason for the development of Grid Energy Storage systems.
Understanding Grid Energy Storage
Grid energy storage is also known as large-scale energy storage. By definition, the reference to the storage of excess electricity is a paradox because electricity itself cannot be stored1. However, you can convert it to other forms of energy that can be stored and turned back to electricity on demand. This conversion of electricity into storable energy forms is the technology behind Grid Energy Storage.
The most common type of grid energy storage is used in hydroelectric power systems. When electricity is cheap, or demand is low, the plant operators pump water to a high dam or reservoir. This water is then released during peak demand through pipes to drive power turbines1. Several other types of grid energy storage include batteries, rail energy, flywheels, supercapacitors, and others.
Lithium-Ion Battery Storage Power Stations
Batteries work by converting electricity into chemical energy which can easily generate electricity on demand. The power stored in batteries can only be produced as a direct current (DC). Yet, the grid typically operates with alternating current (AC). As such, battery storage power stations need additional electronic components such as inverters to convert the DC power to AC.
The use of batteries to support the grid began in the 1980s with lead-acid batteries. As different minerals and technologies reduced in price, Nickel-Cadmium and Sodium-Sulphur batteries became popular. Since 2010, Lithium-Ion batteries (LIB) became the technology of choice for small and large scale storage applications.
The popularity of Lithium-ion Battery for Grid Storage
Lithium-ion batteries currently represent more than 90% of the grid battery storage systems in the world. The cost of lithium batteries has been consistency going down over the past ten years. Like solar energy, the reduced prices have made the lithium-ion technology significantly profitable.
As such, more grid utilities are moving away from conventional batteries and investing in lithium-ion batteries for power storage. In the US, utility providers have moved from using about 80.6 MWh in storage in 2013 to almost 650 MWh in 20172. Apart from affordability, here are a few reasons why Lithium-Ion batteries are becoming increasingly popular.
Lithium’s High Energy Density
Energy density is the amount of energy a battery contains per unit of mass or capacity. Defining the density of a battery by its weight is termed as Gravimetric Energy Density. It is measured in Watt-hours per kilogram (W-hr/Kg).
If you define the energy density by the capacity of the battery, it is called volumetric energy density. Lithium-ion batteries are so popular because lithium contains the highest energy densities in the world.
Applications of Lithium-ion Batteries
If you are familiar with stand-alone solar home systems, you know they use battery banks to provide power at night. However, batteries for grid storage have a more extensive range of applications. You can design these systems to fill the gaps created by inadequacies in the grid. These include
- Short-term Peak Power
- Shaving Power peaks
- Ancillary Services
- Frequency Response Reserve
- Power Outage
Short-term Peak Power Supply
Power supply systems have two types of power regimes. These are the Continuous Power and Peak Power. The Continuous Power is the amount of power that can be supplied sustainably without interruption.
Alternatively, Peak Power is the maximum amount of power that a power supply can sustain. It can only be sustained for short periods ranging from milliseconds to seconds. If it is supplied for more than a few seconds, it can damage the power supply or appliances.
Several motorized electromechanical appliances draw higher amounts of power when starting up than during regular operation. These appliances may require up to three times more power to start. Examples of such devices are fans, actuators, pumps, and others.
Lithium-ion battery storage can provide the additional instantaneous power needed during peak surge power. This setup can save the grid operator from using expensive electricity sources and peaking power plants to meet the gap in the power supply.
Peak Shaving Applications
Electricity markets are not only driven by power supply but also electricity demand trends. Commercial power consumers understand that the grid electricity rates vary throughout the day. In moments when demand is low, the system charges you on off-peak rates. Yet when the demand is high, energy is supplied at premium prices.
Peak shaving refers to the use of alternative power sources to meet the electricity demand during peak hours keeping your utility costs low without changing your schedules or outputs.
Lithium-ion grid storage systems are excellent for peak shaving applications. During off-peak hours, battery storage power stations can use cheap electricity to charge the lithium-ion battery banks. They can then sell it at a profit during peak hours.
Peak shaving is also gaining popularity with domestic users in demand-side management applications. Home owners charge their lithium-ion batteries using free solar energy during the day. They then consume it at night when utility rates are high.
Smart technologies come in handy when setting up peak shaving applications. You can configure your system to automatically switch between grid power and battery power during peak hours to save money.
Lithium-ion batteries for Ancillary Services
Like any complex system, the electric grid often experiences inadequacies or delivery gaps. These are circumstances that result in an interruption in power supply to its customers.
The regular generation and transmission of electricity play a key role in maintaining grid stability and security. Yet there are still various cases when it is inefficient. Ancillary services maintain the stability and security of the grid when regular generation and transmission operations are inadequate.
Ancillary services were conventionally performed using power generators. However, advances in energy storage technology have increased the grid operators’ options. Ancillary services are now powered by Lithium-ion battery storage power plants, electric vehicles, and renewable energy plants. The list below is some of the most common ancillary services provided by the electrical grid.
- Operating and Spinning Reserves
- Voltage Control
- Scheduling and dispatch of electricity
- Loss compensation
Grid energy storage is an ever-growing market with immense potential. The perpetual evolution of the power supply industry demands consistent innovation and reinvention of technology. Lithium-ion batteries provide a competitive, reliable and cost-effective solution in the energy storage space.