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Solving the Grid Flexibility Challenge: An Interview

Flexibility is the extent to which a power system can modify electricity patterns (production or consumption) in response to variability. My colleague Renzo Coccioni, an Industry and Government Relations Director at Schneider Electric, met Engerati founder Carol Stimmel at European Utility Week to discuss grid flexibility. Their conversation touched on the effects of grid flexibility for prosumers, a.k.a. pro-active energy users, or electricity consumers with the ability to control their loads and possibly some on-site power generation. Renzo provided an overview of a current Schneider demonstrator, and explained why flexibility is important for European Union regulators to consider.

Check out the video and excerpt below, or watch the full video interview.

Carol Stimmel: Why is flexibility important in the new energy world?

Renzo Coccioni: Utilities face new challenges. Distribution system operators struggle to manage the fluctuation of renewables, which makes it difficult to balance supply and demand. The degree of renewables’ integration leads to overloaded network components and degraded power quality. Flexibility is one way to fight these fluctuations.

Carol Stimmel: How has Schneider helped solve this flexibility challenge?

Renzo Coccioni: We are a partner in the GreenLys project. It’s the first full-scale smart grid demonstration project in France. The project is testing innovative solutions in the cities of Grenoble and Lyon, including advanced consumer service applications and grid control solutions across the entire electricity supply chain from producer to end-consumer.

Carol Stimmel: What are those consumer service applications?

Renzo Coccioni: I’ll highlight one of those functions – flexibility, and how to handle it. If flexibility is available from the prosumer then it can be anything from solar panels on the roof of your house to your electrical boiler. Prosumers need the function of an aggregator to whom they can submit flexibility offers. The aggregator gathers offers from several prosumers and then submits an offer to the network operator. The network operator then decides whether to accept the offer based on whether this flexibility might cause network overload. These types of issues should be managed in an automated way. It’s very easy to do that with our platform, which Schneider Electric has developed and is currently testing.

Further, to make this work in reality, Distribution System Operators (DSOs) need incentives so they can procure flexibility to solve grid constraints. The right regulatory framework is also necessary. Prosumers also need to be motivated. Governmental incentives would help DSOs modernize the grid and that calls for governmental action and a regulatory framework.

To learn more about flexibility’s importance in the electrical grid and the necessary regulatory framework, watch the full video interview.


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