The energy market is fundamentally changing due to the rise of renewable energy. Electric transport is growing and the use of natural gas is decreasing. The supply of non-continuous sources, such as solar and wind, and the growing demand for electricity make balancing the energy system ever more complicated. On top of this, our power grid is not designed to transport so much electricity. TNO is developing technology to accurately match supply and demand and to take into account the capacity of the existing power grid.
Under the current system, gas-fired power stations can be supplemented in the event of a sudden peak in demand. It is therefore possible to control the supply side. Soon, fossil-fired power stations will close and our energy will come from the sun and wind, and often also from local sources. The controllable energy sources will have thus been replaced by non-controllable sources. So we need a method that makes control possible; not on the supply side this time but on the demand side.
ReFlex is a software solution that enables the energy suppliers of the future, or aggregators as they are called, to create a powerful Virtual Power Plant (VPP). In addition to a few large power stations for generation and supply by energy companies, new suppliers and intermediaries will be set up. Furthermore, the number of heat pumps, electric cars and home batteries for the storage of sustainably-generated electricity is growing. These are also perfectly suited to absorbing peaks in supply and demand. This requires a system that organises the flexibility of supply and demand to the maximum degree possible. ReFlex can do that.
With ReFlex, aggregators are the link between suppliers and consumers or companies. By including charging stations, heat pumps, neighbourhood batteries, compressors and all kinds of other devices in the system, they can be very accurately controlled and thus contribute to the necessary flexibility. They charge when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing and discharge when there is demand, taking into account price fluctuations. Hence the name ‘aggregator’: they add up the energy to be supplied by households and the associated flexibility and trade it on the energy market or offer it to a grid operator.
The value of ReFlex increases as the number of electric vehicles and other devices grows. It prevents the need for investment in grid reinforcement. With ReFlex, TNO provides highly accurate insights into how much flexibility is available. ReFlex provides the technological basis for the smart services of the future energy supplier.