Cloud-based prosumer-centric energy and grid management
Their consumption, generation and storage capabilities and flexibilities turn energy consumers into active players (“prosumers”) and attractive business partners on the energy markets. House owners or tenants in a multi-unit dwelling, the prosumers´ diverse portfolio of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), such as PV, battery storage, heat pump, CHP, EV and EV charger, smart appliances, energy efficiency and demand response will play a crucial role in reducing energy prices and maintaining or increasing grid resilience, especially when operated at large scale and aggregated (Virtual Power Plants, VPP).
DERs create opportunities for new and old stakeholders on the energy markets. Under the term “non-wires alternative” they could help to defer, mitigate or eliminate the need for traditional transmission and especially distribution investments, such as new power lines and transformers. They promise a more flexible, scalable, economically and operationally efficient grid management with higher customer and environmental benefits.
Demand Response (DR) will play a key role among DERs due to its ability to fill valleys, clip peaks and react to fluctuations along the grid. A wide range of hardware is eligible to DR, especially dispatchable appliances such as (water) heating, air-conditioning, heat pump, storage and EVs, but also smaller appliances. The trend towards connected devices opens an unlimited potential.
DR-programs with utility-owned thermostats are run in the US since long. Now, “Bring-your-own-thermostat” (BYOT) programs with customer-provided thermostats from different vendors are on the rise. And pilots for the next step are already emerging: “Bring-your-own-device” (BYOD). Compared to the US, DR is still in its infancy in the EU. But the “Clean Energy Package” might start large-scale unlocking of DR potential in Europe.
Other DERs get cheaper and more mature. Amongst them residential battery storage and EVs will become core DERs – for demand response but also or especially for ancillary and other services. The rise of diverse DERs will lead to the final stage of “BYO” programs: “Bring your own DERs” (BYODER). In the highly digitized energy system of the future prosumer will register (smart register!) any kind of hardware – appliances (load), storage, generation – for BYODER programs – for multiple uses. These BYODER programs will be characterized by interoperability, flexibility and prosumer choice (optionality).
Aggregators and Energy Service Providers will enable the prosumers´ market participation. Energy cloud platforms will manage the interface between prosumers, aggregators, service providers on one side and DSOs and utilities on the other. They will become the heart and dominant actors of the energy system. Innovative technologies such as blockchain, IoT and AI will boost BYODER programs, aggregators and energy cloud platforms.
But the integration of different resource types by different vendors on energy cloud platforms implies huge challenges, especially the technical implementation (smart meter, interoperability), legal implementation (privacy) and an enabling regulatory framework. And the all-important question will be: do BYODER programs create enough benefits for all the chain links?