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We’re at a tipping point in how electricity systems are balanced. Traditionally, supply and demand have been matched by turning large power plants up and down, with the occasional very large industrial customer, like a steel works, containing its demand to help balance the system. But over the last ten years we’ve seen a new breed of businesses – aggregators – bringing together hundreds and thousands of distributed assets to help the electricity systems stay balanced.
We’ve seen more and more aggregators emerging as markets have opened to distributed portfolios, with more than 70 appearing across Europe. Delta-ee Director Jon Slowe suggests “we are past the tipping point of this being a distinct sector in the energy market and there will be lots more action and development over the next years”.
Influencing and controlling the timing of demand will be a core competence of companies in the electricity value chain.
The electricity value chain is increasingly focusing on the timing of demand. Less and less about the quantity of electricity generated and sold. More about kWs and kWhs at particular times.
Delta-ee recently supported Wales & West Utilities’ strategic work looking into the future role of gas in the UK as part of an integrated cross-vector energy system. We helped Wales &West Utilities develop a new generation of their 2050 Energy Pathfinder Model that assesses the impact of different future energy mixes on the balance of electricity and gas supply and demand for any size population in the UK. The main objectives of the rebuild were to critically review the methodology and assumptions, streamline the model methodology, and improve the model’s user interface.
The model simulates hourly supply and demand profiles for gas and electricity across a defined region for a sample year. Together with existing sources and demands, new sources such as tidal barrage, and demands such as EVs are included, alongside fuel switching between the electricity and gas vectors (for example, using hybrid heat pumps). This enables a range of storage, demand response and new technology innovations to be simulated. The model outputs the following results:
At the most simplistic level an answer is “more demand for electricity? Hooray!”
Peel back the layers of the onion (in this case a big juicy onion) a little more, and you might have some more detailed answers.
Energy storage has been the hot topic in the distributed energy industry since Tesla made its move into stationary storage a couple of years ago. As is often the case with ‘new’ technology, the headlines and the hype has been quite far ahead of the reality.
The reality in Europe today is that behind-the-meter (BTM) battery storage markets remain very small in most countries. Market growth is mainly concentrated in just three countries: Germany, Italy and the UK. And Germany is easily the biggest market – it accounts for over 90% of the total European market. So the impact to date on most European energy retailers is very limited.
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