New study: Energy flexibility aggregation can accelerate the growth of renewables
Energy flexibility aggregation can allow for larger deployment of renewables due to the ability to smooth out short-term green energy supply fluctuations. Specifically, the Czech domestic power grid has the potential to increase the share of renewable generation by up to 2% per year. These are the most significant conclusions of a study on the potential of flexibility aggregation in the Czech Republic conducted by analysts at Nano Energies.
In the discussion about decarbonisation, it is often said that we cannot rely on renewables because their performance is not stable. However, the results of our study show that flexibility aggregation can be one of the solutions to this situation if certain conditions are met,” comments one of the authors of the study, Prokop Čech. “The potential of flexibility in the Czech Republic is really big and its evolution could help to solve the challenges of the future energy mix, which is a very relevant issue nowadays.”
Flexibility can be found almost everywhere electricity is generated or where energy is stored. Energy storage includes batteries for example but also in the form of cold or heat. In industry, a good example of flexibility is the control of electric furnaces in steel or glass production. On the household side, heat pumps, boilers or even electric cars offer flexibility. There is a lot of potential, especially in water or residential heating. The development of electromobility can also help the electricity grid by managing charging in a flexible way.
In practice, flexibility aggregation works by remotely controlling the power output of individual sources by an aggregator so that customers get priority for electricity when the price is lowest. Experience from Western markets such as the UK, France or Belgium shows that flexibility aggregators can replace fossil power plants and enable the transition to digital and sustainable energy.
The study came to 3 main conclusions:
- If we start to manage flexibility in the Czech Republic, we can reduce the need for conventional (mainly gas-fired) resources at peak times by 0.9 to 1.3 GW. This will reduce the need for an extensive network of backup sources and slightly reduce the dependence of the system on gas. To give you an idea: the new reactor planned at the Dukovany nuclear power-plant or the coal-fired power plant at Počerady have similarly sized generation capacities.
- Flexibility could help replace fossil sources with renewable ones. It can help grid stability and smooth out short-term fluctuations in renewables.
- Flexibility would allow the use of “extra” renewable energy, which would otherwise be exported in large quantities or need to be curtailed. Specifically, the Czech domestic grid has the potential to increase the share of renewable generation by up to 2% per year.
The study also includes 10 specific measures that are needed to unlock the full potential of flexibility. These include, for example, the widespread deployment of smart metering technology, large heat pumps, and boiler upgrades. If these are met, aggregation of flexibility could be utilized to help industry and also households, especially those using batteries and heat pumps.
“Now is the time when we should be thinking about how we want our energy grid to work and what the energy mix should be. Flexibility aggregation can accelerate the growth of renewables, help grid stability and enable greater use of cheap energy that we might otherwise export. There is a lot of potential,” concludes Prokop Čech.
About the study:
The study “Flexibility to reduce the need for fossil fuel capacity” was prepared by a team of Nano Energies analysts led by Mgr. Prokop Čech, LLM and with the support of the European Climate Foundation in the first half of 2022.. The study builds on the UK think-tank Amber’s November 2020 study Czech Republic without coal by 2030.