On February 27, 2018 the European electricity and gas associations, representing distribution system operators (DSOs) –  CEDEC, EDSO, eurelectric, Eurogas and GEODE – teamed up  to address the issue of flexibility in the energy transition. Two reports entitled “Flexibility in the Energy Transition: a Toolbox for Electricity DSOs” and“Flexibility in the Energy Transition: a Toolbox for Gas DSOs” describe a holistic approach for DSOs use of flexibility to assist them contribute to the transition to a more decarbonised, decentralised and digitised energy system.

The DSOs advocate for smarter and more flexible distribution networks to enable the energy transition, markets transactions and wider commerce between parties. They call on EU policy-makers to integrate the roles of DSOs related to flexibility in the future electricity and gas policy and legislation. The reports present practical solutions to enable DSOs to use flexibility as a tool to operate their grids in a more cost-efficient way.

The launch event was opened by Carmen Gimeno, Secretary General of GEODE, and Beate Raabe, Secretary General of Eurogas. They stressed that the energy transition will bring about profound changes in the way energy is produced, used, stored, and consumed. This will have a huge impact on the distribution grids where flexibility will play a crucial role.

Kristian Ruby, Secretary General of eurelectric said “This joint effort will contribute to the development of a coherent regulatory framework to improve the development and exploitation of flexibility in the European energy system.  An improved regulatory framework should reward the use of flexibility – including by DSOs – and take into account the growing role of the DSO as an active system operator and neutral market facilitators.”

On a similar note ENTSOE-E, the pan-European electricity network operators association, is finalizing an IT roadmap of common projects such as the launch of an “App Store” for smart grids: this digital information exchange platform, referred to as Common Grid Model and Operational Planning Data environment (CGM-OPDE), will be the basis for developing new digital applications to manage electricity flows and take up growing amounts of renewable energy. The platform will be fully up and running in 3 to 5 years, said Laurent Schmitt, the secretary general of ENTSO-E, which represents 42 electricity transmission system operators (TSOs) from 35 European countries.

“We think the CGM-OPDE platform is actually a kind of App Store for TSOs, if I may say,” Schmitt explained, saying the development of new digital tools to manage electricity flows was in line with the evolution of electricity markets foreseen in the EU’s Energy Union package of legislation tabled in November last year. “We’re going to release various apps on this environment,” he continued, saying basic requirements to develop new applications will be available as of mid-2018.

Some of these applications will be operated in data centres run by national electricity grid operators or regional coordination centres, Schmitt said. “But what is interesting is that we have come together to design these applications along a common architecture” based on smart grids standards developed at European level.

Photo: courtesy Hydrogenics/Don Quichote project (co-funded by the FCH JU)