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The sustainable energy network of the future

A challenge we face in the path to the energy transition is how to balance the grid. Currently we balance the grid, mainly with gas-fired powerplants. But we need a sustainable solution.

The sustainable solution is to use smaller, sustainable energy assets. If you have an energy asset, Senfal can use it as a sustainable way to balance the grid and give the energy asset owner a possibility to earn money on the FCR market. With energy he didn’t need anyway. We identified three energy assets and how they can be used for the sustainable energy network of the future.

Batteries: 90.090 times as big as your iPhone

Batteries are very suitable for delivering FCR. When you hear the word battery you might think of the small batteries you use for your remote control. However, the batteries we talk about are much larger. Where the iPhone 6 has a 11.1 Wh (watt per hour) battery, typical utility sized batteries are 1MWh or larger: that is the equivalent of 90.090 iPhone! These types of batteries are often used to reduce the need to build a larger connection to the grid in situations where there are large amounts of solar and wind installed. You can imagine that investing in a large connection that is only necessary for those 7 days a year when there is a lot of wind and sun, is not economical. Then batteries are used to store excess solar and wind energy.

How Batteries are used to balance the Grid

By controlling the energy asset, the battery in this case, through our software, we can decide when and if it should charge or discharge. We use the battery to store excess energy when needed, and balance the grid by delivering frequency containment reserve (FCR) with this stored energy. We have already implemented this in the pilot ‘Jouw Energie Moment 2.0’. So if you as a business use a large battery, there are possibilities to earn some extra money with it.

Electric Vehicles: Controlling Charging Station Schedules to solve Disturbances

Our software is able to predict how and when charging stations can be used for trading and grid services based on acquired data. This will enable E-mobility Service Providers (eMSP) to more accurately predict what amount of energy they need to purchase at what moment. Being able to switch the charging stations on or off and decide if it should charge (and in the future discharge), we can match or shift parts of the energy demand accordingly to cheap energy prices. Furthermore, control of the charging schedule can be used to solve small disturbances on the grid by providing frequency containment reserve (FCR). However, since electric vehicles aren’t charging all the time (they also have to drive), these assets can only partially provide FCR. That is why they need to be combined with additional assets within a pool, such as batteries.

Wind turbines: adjusting power

Wind is erratic, sometimes there isn’t even a small gust of wind, sometimes it storms. By controlling the turbine settings you can adjust the power output of turbines. The power output can be controlled in two ways: by adjusting the position of the turbine, and by adjusting the pitch of the blades. Only by combining the turbine with other assets, such as batteries or electric vehicles, can they be used for providing FCR. An interesting opportunity for the sustainable energy market of the future.

A pool of assets combined: you can’t do it alone

If you have a pool of assets, for example a battery and a wind turbine, we can control them both and combine them to deliver FCR. This can be extra interesting, by combining assets you also have reserve when there is no wind for example. For the pilot with TenneT, ‘Jouw Energy Moment’, TenneT allows us to pool multiple Tesla Powerwalls and use the combined storage, to bid into the FCR market. In the near future we will add wind turbines and EV’s to this pool, developing a platform for multiple small(er) energy assets.

In the end: A sustainable future

These aforementioned energy assets are just a couple examples. There are endless possibilities like heat pumps, water treatment installations, water pumps and so on. The asset needs to be able to quickly and accurately adjust its power output or consumption, for long stretches of time. In our view a very interesting, good and needed solution for the sustainable energy network of the future.