Volatile and decentralised energy generation is an essential characteristic of the energy future. What is at first an evident risk to grid stability, could also prove to be an opportunity for smart and flexible grid management, since small and decentralised consumption devices, if actively involved, could even help to stabilise the grid. In order to explore this potential, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), and the southern German distribution system operator (DSO) Bayernwerk Netz GmbH have launched HeatFlex last summer, a research project to increase the flexibility and stability of the entire transmission system.
TenneT and Bayernwerk jointly investigate how decentralised devices can be involved most effectively. The power users that HeatFlex is concerned with are, for example, electric storage heaters, heat pumps, water heaters and potentially also electric vehicles in the Bayernwerk area. They can be controlled by the DSO using ripple control. If a bottleneck in the transmission grid is to be expected, for instance due to a lot of wind power, decentralised consumption devices are used for grid control: At TenneT’s request, they will be triggered by Bayernwerk and then cease consuming too much electricity but instead supply the grid with the necessary electricity for stabilisation.
There are over 170,000 decentralised controllable devices with a total capacity of around 200MW in the Bayernwerk distribution area. A first test in summer already proved the technical feasibility of HeatFlex in cases of real bottleneck situations. It turned out that the communication between the control centres of both operators worked quickly and efficiently. “With this project, we are testing solutions for tomorrow already today. HeatFlex is one of the pilot projects with which we are investigating which decentralised flexibilities we can use in the future to stabilise the grid. These include, for example, projects with power-to-gas, with bidirectionally chargeable electric vehicles or with home storage and blockchain technology,” explains TenneT Managing Director Wilfried Breuer.