How to achieve faster decarbonisation in isolated electrical grids : case study

December 3, 2019 by Sabrina Cipullo

Renewable energy sources are becoming increasingly economical and competitive, but to fully exploit their potential it is necessary to adapt the energy system.

“Electricity grids cannot store electricity economically, so energy generation and consumption must match at all times.”
Karlsruhe, Germany.

With these words Javier Gebauer, business development manager for Easy Smart Grid, explained that fossil production could easily adapt to consumption changes. However, renewables depend on weather (wind and sun), so their production rarely matches current demand. Further integration of renewable energies is not limited by their cost any longer, so attention now shifts to flexibility to ensure grid balancing and stability. With weather dependent production it is more efficient if consumption is adapted to energy generation to avoid costly energy storage.

With this idea in mind Easy Smart Grid and its partners are implementing in Allensbach, a German community with 7,000 inhabitants, a cleaner and smarter energy system.

Project demo “SoLAR”

Inserted on the shores of Lake Constance, the community of Allensbach is at the forefront of technology. A demo project has been started in 2018, funded by the Ministry for Environment and Energy in Stuttgart. A property with 22 flats will be equipped with Easy Smart Grid technology. Solar rooftops, a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generator, heat pumps, car chargers and specially equipped household appliances are coordinated by a Local Energy Market (LEM). This compensates the generation volatility and minimizes grid load. Easy Smart Grid technology maximizes consumption of locally generated electricity, and minimizes control complexity as well as the cost of automation and energy storage.

In the period from May 2018 to April 2019, detailed planning and simulation was done. Integration and pre-tests of the components were discussed with their suppliers and the project developer. Simulation confirmed that Easy Smart Grid enabled decentral control substantially increases own consumption and reduces grid load. With self-generated electricity being cheaper than grid electricity, and lower grid fees caused by lower grid load, total savings on energy cost more than justify the additional smart technology.

In the second phase started in July, the flexibility of household appliances and car charges will also be analyzed and the full system installed. In addition to this technical work, economic models including dynamic end customer tariffs and adaptations needed to replicate this model will be addressed, Javier Gebauer said.

Easy Smart Grid was founded in Karlsruhe/Germany in 2014 with a clear vision: an energy system dominated by renewable sources. The same year the German firm patented this idea that targets not only traditional sectors, but also new areas of application such as electric mobility, which without adequate measures would significantly increase grid infrastructure load.

“Our technology is based on a decentralized system where congestion or balance indicators are derived from grid state variables. In fact, the components and information systems required are less expensive than conventional ones and, therefore, allow the integration of smaller flexibilities, such as a fridge.”
Javier Gebauer.

The executive also explained:

"The places where we see the greatest potential for our technology are isolated electrical grids like many European islands. Those electricity systems are based on diesel or heavy fuel oil, leading to high cost and emissions. Faster decarbonization means higher savings.

Minor impacts disturb fragile island grid balance, limiting the use of volatile renewable sources today (sun, wind). Isolated grids are not supported by neighbours, so voltage dips and frequency drops cause more recovery actions or even blackouts. Our solution mobilizes local load flexibility for improved grid stability and resilience.

If they spend more on renewable energy installations and less on fuel imports, it will be possible to increase local added value and jobs, raises living standards and energy independence.”

In this way, Easy Smart Grid technology creates a local energy market to optimize the consumption of locally generated renewable energy and, at the same time, minimizes the complexity of control and storage and the corresponding system cost. An opportunity for Non-Conventional Renewable Energies where everyone wins: citizenship, the State, business and, above all, the environment.

Project partners: EIFER, ISC Konstanz,  Kaufmann-Bau, Weider, Stadtwerk Haßfurt, Gemeinde Allensbach,  E3/DC, BHS Hausgeräte, Miele, Buderus, Energiedienst.

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