In a consortium with the transmission system operators TenneT (Netherlands/Germany) and Terna (Italy), Swissgrid is launching the Equigy crowd balancing platform in Switzerland. This platform will facilitate the implementation of the Swiss federal government’s Energy Strategy 2050 and will contribute to stabilising the transmission grid.
Through the use of blockchain technology, Equigy enables the integration of small, decentralised units – such as domestic battery storage, photovoltaic systems, small-scale hydropower systems, heat pumping technology and even electric cars – into the control energy market. Owners of such small units can use third parties, known as aggregators, to make their extra capacities available to transmission system operators for grid stabilisation and thus contribute to the success of the Energy Strategy 2050.
The new Equigy platform creates a connection between decentralised resources and the ancillary services market, which is used to obtain flexible control energy. This involves both the aggregators, who have the role of ancillary service managers, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), such as vehicle manufacturers. In this way, the platform represents a cross-sector innovation. Equigy provides the basis for Europe-wide standardisation and a common, neutral and technology-based solution for transmission system operators that supports the addition of new, renewable energy resources. The platform is also scalable and open to additional partners at any time.
New players in the electricity value chain
The European energy system is undergoing a profound change, both in terms of supply and demand. For one thing, the consumption of electricity is changing due to increasing demand from electric cars, heat pumping technology and other devices. New renewable energy resources are also increasingly being connected to the grid, raising volatility in production. Traditional thermal power plants are gradually coming off the grid in Europe, and their contribution to the production of electricity and control energy is decreasing. This means that new sources of flexible control power need to be tapped into for grid balancing, such as installations in private households, electric vehicles or controlling consumer demand (demand-side response, DSR).
However, a large number of small flexible resources are much more difficult to manage than a few large power plants. This is exactly where the new Equigy crowd balancing platform comes in: it integrates new players and technologies into the electricity value chain and facilitates data exchange between the parties involved.
Equigy can use blockchain technology to validate a large number of small transactions and thus create a single, immutable and secure data source from which all parties can benefit. The value and effectiveness of blockchain technology has already been tested in a number of pilot projects, both in terms of adding value for the operators of small plants and for reliably providing environmentally friendly control energy for transmission system operators.
The system is not exclusive; it can be integrated into existing grid stabilisation processes. The technology and software are open source and are provided free of charge to promote the development of secondary applications in the energy value chain. As a transmission system operator, Swissgrid does not pursue any direct commercial interests; its sole aim here is lowering the entry barriers for decentralised energy resources and thus, in the case of Switzerland, involving as many small players as possible to promote the implementation of the federal government’s energy strategy.
Potential in Switzerland
«We are proud to be a founding partner of Equigy,» says Yves Zumwald, CEO of Swissgrid. «It’s only natural that this ambitious initiative is being driven by transmission system operators. We are not subject to commercial constraints and are able to operate the new platform adopting a neutral position. Equigy contributes to the stability of the grid and ensures a secure supply of electricity. The platform gives everyone the opportunity to contribute to the implementation of the federal government’s Energy Strategy 2050.»
The more decentralised energy technologies that are connected to the European grid, the larger the available pool of flexible and green power will become, making initiatives like Equigy the key to successfully integrating markets and technical systems.
Equigy will work closely with a variety of partners, including aggregators, regional system operators, electricity suppliers, automotive, storage and heating manufacturers, and other technology companies. The aim is to continue to operate power transmission safely and stably in future, while at the same time being able to drive forward investments and innovations.
The project has attracted a lot of interest in Switzerland, with several partners having expressed an interest in participating. Equigy is being launched now, and the pilot project to test the technology will run until the end of 2020.