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Flexiquest researches supply-driven energy market

Flexiquest is the name of TNO's research project which, in collaboration with various energy market parties, investigates how an increase in the supply of sustainable energy impacts the energy demand; what are the consequences for producers, distributors and customers. Flexiquest is driven by the objective of a 14% share of sustainable energy in the total energy demand of The Netherlands by 2020. Currently, that number is 4%.

The traditional economic value chain is demand-driven; Flexiquest inverts it to a supply-driven market. When sustainable energy is offered at a profitable price, demand will possibly increase. Flexiquest models what happens when pricing is used as a means to drive the market; what are the implications for the energy chain? In Flexiquest, TNO collaborates with (energy producers) Essent and Powerhouse, (energy distributor) Alliander and (energy customers) EvoSwitch, a data center, plus Kloosterboer and Partner Logistics, both cold store facilities. The project, co-financed by market parties, models and simulates technical, economic and organizational aspects of the feasibility to increase the use of sustainable energy in The Netherlands via market forces.

Mid-sized energy users

Flexiquest is directed at mid-sized energy users, such as cold store facilities, data centers, hospitals, office buildings, swimming pools, skate rings. Those represent a substantial part of the total energy consumption, but have rarely been the focus of research. Flexiquest investigates organizational aspects and economic feasibility in particular; the commercial interaction in the energy chain. Flexiquest applies a model that simulates the energy demand of cold store facilities, and links the simulations to energy production scenarios. When the cold store facility reacts to high supply and reduced prices, it procures energy at a profitable rate. It is beneficial to steer on price as opposed to steering solely on day/night energy rates or temperature, which is relevant to the facilities. Society is evolving towards a supply-driven energy market, working with variable prices.

Technical and social innovation

Flexiquest fits TNO's strategy of bringing together technological and social innovation. It has developed a business model that benefits all parties involved the value chain – or rather, value web – of actors. If the cold store facility reduces its energy costs, the energy supplier receives less income and the grid operator notices a shift in the way the network is taxed. However, do market parties indeed act in the rational way the model supposes? A follow-up study will test models and simulations in practice. Flexiquest bundles a wide variety of expertise: economists who conceptualize value webs, coders who write a detailed simulation model, specialists who know everything there is to know about energy grids.


Max Schreuder

  • sustainability
  • energy
  • smart grid
  • flexiquest
  • renewable energy


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