Crowd balancing platform

The «crowd balancing platform» is an innovative solution in the control energy market. The shift in electricity generation towards a large number of smaller generators with volatile production is presenting new challenges for transmission system operators.

In future, electricity generation will become less flexible and more difficult to predict due to the increase in new renewable energy resources, such as solar and wind power. This development presents challenges for transmission system operators, who need to ensure a balance between production and consumption. The economical, safe and secure use of decentralised flexibility resources, such as energy storage systems, electric cars, battery storage devices and heat pumping technology is a promising approach for increasing the flexibility of the electricity grid on the consumer side. New digitalisation approaches offer opportunities to integrate scalable decentralised energy storage systems into the electricity system more easily and with greater scalability.

Source: EQUIGY
Source: Equigy

With the crowd balancing platform, Swissgrid is launching a pilot project in Switzerland that targets the use of storage technologies in the area of primary control energy. The goal of the project is to balance short-term fluctuations in the transmission grid with the support of small decentralised energy sources. To do so, the crowd balancing platform uses blockchain technology and the Internet of Things. It pursues an open source strategy to ensure freedom from discrimination and enable the faster dissemination of the platform. The transmission system operator TenneT confirmed the technical feasibility of the platform in a trial in the Netherlands and Germany. TenneT, the Italian transmission system operator Terna and Swissgrid have now jointly established a consortium for the use of this technology in Europe. Swissgrid is investigating the potential of this technology in a pilot project in Switzerland. The project will start in the summer and run until the end of the year.

Collaboration at the European level sets standards

The crowd balancing platform is being launched in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy by a consortium comprised of Swissgrid, TenneT and Terna. Pilot projects have already been successfully completed in the Netherlands and Germany.

Transmission system operators are the ideal drivers of this ambitious initiative. They operate free of commercial interests to ensure a secure and stable European interconnected grid.

The collaboration at a European level creates a level of standardisation for the integration of small, fragmented units in the balancing process that increases efficiency. The cooperation between the various transmission system operators creates a very large market and establishes the conditions to allow manufacturers of electric vehicles and operators of new technologies and aggregators to prequalify for this market. All signatories of the consortium can benefit from the knowledge transfer and sharing of the development costs.

The more technologies, the greater the available pool of flexible and renewable electricity.

The development of the «crowd balancing platform» is highly scalable. The platform is designed to grow with the increase in renewable energies and sustainable energy solutions. Besides this, Equigy is designed to enable other European transmission system operators to join the consortium and launch the platform in their market. The more technologies that are connected in the network, the greater the available pool of flexible and renewable electricity, which supports long-term European grid stability.

Transformation in the energy system – an opportunity for Swissgrid

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The world of energy is changing rapidly on the supply as well as the demand side. The increase in renewable energy is leading to increasing decentralisation and greater volatility in electricity generation. Solar and wind energy as well as hydropower are heavily dependent on the weather, the time of day, and the season. Besides this, energy consumption is undergoing a profound change. The increasing popularity of electric cars, heat pumping technology and other consumer-based devices is leading to greater demand for electricity and the peak times of electricity consumption are shifting. Volatility is increasing. This is leading to fluctuations in supply and demand. New sources that increase flexibility in production and storage are required to give transmission system operators the best possible chance of ensuring and controlling the balance.

Production and consumption should always be in balance
Production and consumption should always be in balance

The transmission grid only works if the production and consumption of electricity are in equilibrium. A frequency of 50 Hertz must be ensured every second. In the event of an imbalance between production and consumption, the transmission system operator (TSO) draws on control energy. This is a reserve that power plants keep available on behalf of the transmission system operator and which can be accessed at short notice. If electricity consumption increases or a power plant fails, the TSO allows generators to feed more energy into the grid. If electricity consumption drops, less energy is fed in. The transmission system operators apply a three-stage approach to the use of control energy, making use of primary, secondary and tertiary control reserve.

The blockchain-based crowd balancing platform complements the existing products in the control energy market and makes it possible to integrate small, fragmented and decentralised units into this balancing process.

The pilot project in Switzerland

Swissgrid is part of a consortium with other leading European transmission system operators and is investigating the potential of this technology in a pilot project in Switzerland. The project will start in the summer and run until the end of the year.

Several Swiss companies have already expressed their interest in participating in the pilot project.

Besides Swissgrid, as the transmission system operator, the initiative involves various other stakeholders. It requires an original equipment manufacturer, such as a meter manufacturer or a manufacturer of electric cars, a technical aggregator that activates the individual electric cars and aggregates flexibility, as well as a commercial aggregator to supply the aggregated flexibility to Swissgrid as primary control power.

Secure and protected new business processes thanks to blockchain technology

The crowd balancing platform uses blockchain technology and the Internet of Things (IoT). These standardise and simplify the coordination of numerous small storage units (electric cars, batteries, etc.) and ensure secure supply processes and protected utilisation. The blockchain technology gives the transmission system operator an insight into the capacity of the energy storage system.

The platform was developed using Hyperledger Fabric software, which carries out role-based checks of the transactions using blockchain technology.




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