Through Active Demand (AD) consumers become active participants in electric power systems by adjusting their electricity use in reaction to economic signals from the market and provide different electricity system agents with services by making their electricity consumption either controllable or reactive to specific requests. This is one of the most untapped energy resources in Europe today and it is believed by many actors inside and outside the energy industry that properly designed AD programs are increasingly needed to cope with the challenges of the ongoing energy transition, i.e. more and more DRES in the markets, electrification and increasing demand at least in some countries. In other words, the added value it brings to the electric system is a higher efficiency in the use of electricity that can be realized across the value chain of electricity supply at different levels. One example is the advantage that Distribution System Operators (DSOs) - that have to operate and plan their networks taking into account the potential peak demand increase and the connection of additional loads and Distributed Generation (DG) units - could take of AD. DSOs may need in fact to make huge investments to reinforce the network capacity in order to ensure a reliable electricity supply even during periods of critical loading or congestions caused by maximum feed-in (generally occurring only a few hours a year), while through the load flexibility provided by AD they could offer specific products for system services in order to operate networks more efficiently. The simultaneity of peak loads at critical times could be reduced, or AD could help in avoiding congestions that are caused by feed-in thus moderating the need for new investments in both cases. The magnitude of the impact that can be expected of AD in distribution grids is still uncertain due to a relatively scarce experience on it. Nevertheless, evaluating these benefits is crucial for regulators and DSOs that need to evaluate the cost effectiveness of possible investments in these smart technologies and the design of network tariffs and network operation procedures that incorporate AD. ADVANCED is a research project co-funded by th0e European Community's Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement no 308923, that aims to shed light on ways to overcome the barriers hindering the mass deployment of AD in Europe. The studies developed in the project are based on real consumption data collected from European AD pilot experiences in combination with the VaasaETT database. Within the ADVANCED project a quantitative analysis of the potential economic impact of AD on distribution grids and the identification of the services that can be provided to ensure system performance and stability were carried out, the results of which are reported in this paper. The analysis within ADVANCED included three steps: the first step was to compile a scenario based report that - based on a methodology developed within the project- calculated the flexibilities that AD might offer on a general level. The second step was to take a special DSO perspective in order to find a fit between DSO's (expansion) needs and the possibilities of AD. The third step was to use a large-scale distribution planning tool to estimate the reinforcement needs to meet the local demand growth, a higher penetration of DG and the alterations in the shape of peak load patterns that are expected in a particular distribution network in a ten-year horizon. As a result, this analysis provides a quantitative scenario-based estimate of the impact of different forms of AD and other boundary conditions on the potential of AD to bring benefits to distribution networks as well as a deep view on how AD can support distribution grids in critical situations. Moreover it provides useful insights into the added value of AD for DSOs and the convenience of promoting and investing on certain types of AD services at distribution network local level.
Keywords: Active demand; Distributed generation; Distribution grid
Published: August 2016.