SmartGrid – Flexibility Everywhere

Supporting the COP21 Agreement with Big Data and Advanced Analytics

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In recent years, energy consumers, both residential and industrial, have iteratively evolved to become prosumers. This adds a new dimension and complexity to the traditional energy system in which end-customers solely consumed energy.

Today, private solar panels, electric cars and the adoption of stationary batteries are making customers more independent. These prosumers offer a new kind of flexibility that can be utilized for the benefit of multiple stakeholders provided that novel incentive models are put in place. This evolution into a distributed energy system creates both challenges and opportunities that call for new tools and business models.

A greater penetration of distributed renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, is increasing the need to balance resources not only at the transmission level but also at the distribution level. Increased electricity consumption by such technologies as heat pumps and electric vehicles adds to the uncertainty and heightens the challenges for system operators to manage their resources accordingly.

These challenges require smart solutions to reduce the inherent uncertainty of planning and operation processes.

The challenge to distribution system operators (DSO) is to manage the system efficiently and robustly while also accommodating new green technologies. DSOs need to balance these three aspects without compromising any of them. Distributed renewable generation and changes in the traditional load profiles are creating the need for DSOs to access flexible resources in their system in an ever more efficient way.

The challenges to transmission system operators (TSO) are similar, and a key issue is to access enough and inexpensive resources to balance the system. Traditional balancing products and markets that were designed for thermal power plants might not prove sufficient in the long run. There is hence a need for the capability to create custom markets for flexibility products that can help TSOs balance their grids.

For balance-responsible entities (BRE), the challenge is to maintain an equilibrium in their region effectively and economically in the face of changing renewable energy generation and traditional load patterns. Forecasting load and production within a balancing region is expected to become more challenging. BREs must therefore engage flexible resources in their region that can serve as an alternative to accepting imbalance costs.

Contact the experts

With ten years of research experience in new flexibility market concepts and flexible load management, the SmartGrid team at IBM Research – Zurich is developing tools and platforms not only for existing stakeholders but also for new emerging stakeholders in tomorrow’s distributed and flexible energy ecosystem.


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