Automatic Frequency Restoration Reserve (aFRR)
aFRR is a process for restoring the frequency and power balance in the power grid. It is done by changing the active power of an energy asset with a ramp-up time to full activation (FAT) of up to 5 minutes with automatic activation.
Background information: the Electricity Balancing Guideline
To ensure a secure and affordable supply for all of its citizens, the European Union requires a well-managed internal electricity market. The EU enacted regulations on electricity balancing in 2017, with the goal of integrating electricity markets across EU countries. The Electricity Balancing Guideline aims to create a market in which countries can share the resources used by transmission system operators to ensure that generation and demand are always equal. It is also about allowing new entrants into the market, such as demand response and renewables. Overall, the Balancing Guideline should help increase supply security, reduce emissions, and lower customer costs.
Automatic Frequency Restoration Reserve (aFRR) is a type of reserve used to maintain the stability and reliability of the electricity grid. Unlike Manual Frequency Restoration Reserve (mFRR), which can be activated manually by dispatchers, aFRR is activated automatically in response to a disturbance on the grid.
The purpose of aFRR is to quickly restore the frequency of the grid to its normal operating level after a disturbance. The frequency of the grid is a measure of the stability of the system, and it is important that it be maintained within a certain range to ensure that the grid is operating safely and efficiently. When the frequency deviates from this range, it can cause problems such as voltage fluctuations and blackouts.
To restore the frequency of the grid, aFRR uses a combination of power plants and other resources that are capable of quickly increasing or decreasing their output. These resources are held in reserve and are automatically activated by the grid when needed to restore the frequency. Once the frequency has been restored, the aFRR resources are deactivated and returned to their normal operating state.
Picasso and MARI
The European guidelines on electricity balancing call for the creation of European-wide mFRR and aFRR platforms, which are two critical deliverables of the TSOs' projects MARI and PICASSO.
These European platforms were created to improve the effectiveness of energy balancing across the continent and to integrate balancing energy markets, allowing for the trading of mFRR and aFRR balancing energy while improving operational security.
The Platform for the International Coordination of Automated Frequency Restoration and Stable System Operation (PICASSO) is a project supported by all TSOs through the ENTSO-E Market Committee to establish a European platform for the exchange of balancing energy from aFRR.
MARI stands for Manually Activated Reserves Initiative and has been operational since October 2022. It is the European platform for mFRR or tertiary reserve steering. The goal is similar to PICASSO in that it specifies activation and operational parameters for devices with a ramp-up time of 12.5 minutes.
What is the end goal of platforms like aFRR?
With a fully functional internal energy market, different European countries with different national energy systems will be able to trade on pan-European platforms. This allows smaller players to participate and makes trading more efficient. The EU believes that by providing market-based incentives for green energy generation, a competitive internal energy market will enable the EU's transition to clean energy.
It also believes that a free internal market will enable energy consumers to become more active participants in the energy market. This could imply generating their own electricity, investing in energy storage, or investigating demand-side response. It could also imply making better use of demand-side flexibility; technology allows customers to adjust demand to reduce costs and carbon emissions.
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