Residential Flexibility Management: A Case Study in Distribution Networks
Demand-side flexibility management is a key enabler of the transformation towards the high penetration of renewable energy resources. We present a flexibility-management system called Flex4Grid, which is designed to provide a low-cost solution for residential consumers wishing to participate in power-grid balancing. The Flex4Grid system continuously forecasts the need for flexibility in a power grid and informs consumers about the flexibility-management periods. Consumers can provide their flexibility to an aggregator in exchange for a reward, which depends on the selected incentive scheme. The automation of the flexibility-management events is provided by interfacing with devices and the system via the Z-Wave and open platform communication unified architecture (OPC UA) technologies. The Flex4Grid system has been deployed in three pilots in Slovenia and Germany. A large-scale pilot in Celje, Slovenia, with 1047 participants, was used to collect statistical data regardi ng how consumers participate in the flexibility-management events. A critical peak-pricing incentive scheme was used in the Celje pilot. The smaller German pilots with a total of 185 participants were used for testing the technical capabilities of the system. User-satisfaction surveys were performed in all three pilots. The results indicate that the proposed approach is appropriate for engaging consumers in flexibility-management events. On average, the pilots' participants reduced their load by 10% during a peak event. The overall scores of the user-satisfaction survey were 3.4 and 3.9 on a 5-point Likert scale for the German and Slovenian pilots, respectively. These are good results for a prototype system; however, improvements to the stability and usability of the system are required.