The CoordiNet project is exploring the benefits of creating a ‘power flexibility market’. When electricity demand is high, market participants can offer to reduce their electricity use or increase electricity production and sell excess power to the grid operator.
Flexible electricity use is an often-overlooked opportunity to increase energy efficiency and achieve more sustainable use of power. In fact, unlocking the potential of flexibility is vital for the transition to carbon-neutral cities, by solving challenges such as capacity shortage and grid congestion. Flexible use of power enables electrification of transport and industry, manages increased use of excess electricity for heating and allows more renewable energy to be incorporated into the power system.
A common problem in growing cities
Any party that can reduce electricity use or increase electricity generation on demand can be part of a flexible power market. The problem is that there hasn’t been enough incentive to fully seize this opportunity, which is one reason why uneven demand and a shortage of energy often impedes cities’ growth and development. The Swedish city of Uppsala is a typical example, with grid congestion frustrating the city’s growth and transition to becoming carbon neutral. Since an upgrade of the grid is years away, creative solutions are needed today.
Local market for more efficient use of the grid
The CoordiNet project is an initiative that lets energy users play a more active role in the transition of the energy system by creating a local market in which customers are paid for offering flexibility and lowering capacity peaks to reduce energy shortages and grid congestion. That means network and power suppliers and customers can help balance the load and generation. This provides new revenue streams for grid owners and energy companies, and offers the potential for new types of actors such as aggregators that enable smaller flexibility providers to participate by combining lesser resources into a larger bid. This shifts the focus onto not only considering electric power, but also distribution.
A broader view on energy efficiency
The CoordiNet project addresses the need to optimise energy use, but realising the value of flexibility also involves a change in mindset. For the municipality of Uppsala, CoordiNet plays an important role in finding solutions to grid congestion and helping it transition to 100% renewable energy, as well as allowing more consumers to be part of and benefit from the energy transition. The municipality plays an active role in involving more organisations, with the aim of adopting an aggregator role for its own resources.
Four demonstration sites
CoordiNet is a Horizon 2020-funded EU project, aiming to improve coordination between grid operators, consumers and other market actors, and explore possibilities for more efficient use of the power grid, together with power companies in Sweden and Europe. The Swedish demonstration project has four sites; Uppsala, Malmö, Gotland and Västernorrland. Uppsala and Malmö have similar demand-side challenges, while the demonstrations in Gotland and Västernorrland relate to wind power generation. The partners of the Swedish project are Vattenfall Eldistribution, Svenska Kraftnät, E-on Energidistribution, Energiforsk, Expektra and the municipality of Uppsala. If these flexible energy market solutions prove useful, they could be implemented permanently and help solve power challenges in many cities.