Identifying Flexibility

One of the objectives of WindNODE was to identify where and how potentials for technical load shifting as well as for sector coupling can be found in northeastern Germany in order to make them available as flexibility within the energy system. A particular focus was on industrial and commercial flexibility as well as flexibility in neighbourhoods and the mobility sector. In addition to the technical integration, this included the structured approach to convincing plant operators in the respective sectors to participate.

Identifying and characterising flexibility

Within an energy system with a very high share of volatile renewable generation, flexibility becomes more and more important. This especially concerns the user side, as by means of adjustable or, if necessary, switchable loads, surplus energy can be used directly and without loss. Even though many flexibility options have already been described in theory long ago, the identification and characterisation in real conditions and existing processes often still present a challenge. In commerce and industry, too, it is often still necessary to rethink the necessities and possibilities of load flexibilisation.

We identify and characterise model flexibility options as well as the ancillary conditions for the relevant application, such as: which parameters of the processes involved have to be observed? Who or what can control the flexibility at which time? The question of which revenue models can be used to turn flexibility to profit is put aside for the time being. The focus lies on three promising workstreams:

  • Commerce and retail with a high number of decentralised flexibility options
  • Industry and supply
  • Neighbourhoods and connections to the Smart City

System integration of sector coupling

The view of the electricity industry falls short of the mark for a successful energy transition. Especially in the heat and mobility sector, there is enormous potential for the flexibilisation and decarbonisation of loads. From a technical perspective, this so-called sector coupling is not really new. Nevertheless, it will have a crucial role to play in the system integration of large renewable electricity volumes. Sector coupling concepts face at least as great regulatory and economic challenges as technical development needs. To date, grid and system supporting sector coupling technologies are subject to legal disadvantages on the electricity market (EEG surcharge, grid fees etc.). As regards sector coupling products (especially heat and gas), the ‘green’ aspect of the electricity has not yet been sufficiently taken into account.

We are studying three important fields of sector coupling: Power-to-Heat (PtH) with applications in all orders of magnitude, from decentralised night-storage heaters in the kW range to the use within the Berlin district heating system in the (up to) 100 MW range; Power-to-Cold (PtC) for commercial cooling units, ice storage and for a combined PtH-/PtC installation, as well as controlled charging for electromobility. The central question is always how the load shifting potentials and the functional storage (heat/cold) can be technically deployed as flexibility reserves for the system integration of renewables and can be promoted both in an economic and regulatory sense. In the electromobility sector, we are developing use cases together with specific customers and identifying drivers for the integration of the charging infrastructure, especially in the commercial mobility domain.

  • Integration of sector coupling installations to provide flexibility and ancillary services
  • Marketing options for sector coupling installations as regional flexibility on the flexibility platform
  • Use of sector coupling installations for the system integration of renewable energy in case of an impending cutback in wind turbine output due to grid congestion

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