Community Flexibility in Regional Local Energy Systems

The structural change from hierarchical energy supply networks with centrally controlled (bulk)-generation to an interaction of steadily growing, decentralized, volatile renewable energies requires novel control concepts.

The purpose of the cFlex project is to exploit unused flexibilities as a service of cellular organized prosumer communities as a common system to enable increased use of renewable energy sources in the distribution network and to balance over long periods and regions the production, storage and consumption. In contrast to simple aggregation, load management or self-consumption optimization of individual customers, the cooperative bundling of different prosumers in network segments of (regional) Local Energy Communities (R/LECs) in cFlex aims to optimize the overall state of the energy grid. This objective makes prosumer communities important new partners for distribution system operators by facilitating congestion (congestion management), contributing to the avoidance of premature network expansion and enabling innovative services (e.g., outsourcing operator).

The unused potential in already operated infrastructure such as (BI)PV systems, storage systems (battery, hot water, building heating) and consumers (heat or water pumps) will be discovered and controlled by future energy management systems. The integration of additional renewable energy sources and e-mobility is conceptually provided but not prioritized. In our vision of a cellular approach, cross-domain data collection and analysis, as well as forecasting and predictive models, enable automatical balancing mechanisms at different network levels. As a result, not only local energy supply and demand can be harmonized, but also regional demand or surplus for reactive power/voltage control can come directly from the prosumer community.

Challenges lie in the right degree of consideration of the physical constraints of the energy network, the multi-layered model-predictive control, the use of adaptive algorithms for autonomous, automated operation and cellular optimization, which must ensure both local and regional balance. This is done on the basis of existing measurement data sets collected in different use categories (private, commercial, municipal) of real customers of the project partners of cFlex, whereby flexibility potentials for the developed control concepts and compensation mechanisms are examined by simulations (e.g., RAPsim, Power-Factory) and verified on existing energy management platforms. The project result is the advancement of the electricity system with necessary tools for the use by prosumer communities as a grid-supporting service in distribution grids, both small-scale and regional. This allows prosumers to install and use more renewable energy, and to act as if they were active on the grid in the same way as energy utilities.

Our project is supported by solar forecasting data, opens an external URL in a new window from Solcast

This project is funded by the Klima- und Energiefonds and carried out under the Energy Research Program 2018.

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided to us by the Klima- und Energiefonds and FFG (Austrian Research Promotion Agency) for the cFlex project within the programme “Energieforschung (e!MISSION)”.


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