07. November 2019

SCCH: Data-Driven Research for Green Energy

Flexibility is the key to decentralization on the energy markets. In future, households will produce more renewable energy by means of photovoltaic systems and consume more for e-mobility. This means that energy will be increasingly generated and consumed away from central plants. Consumers will also be producers, so-called prosumers. Optimization between suppliers, storage media and prosumers will be controlled by artificial intelligence (AI). Controlling this flexibility amid highly diverse, mutually dependent systems requires new approaches to decentralized decision-making.

That is the aim of the FLEX+ project from the 4th call issued by the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund: the FLEX+ platform is intended to handle the marketing, planning, forecasting, aggregation and needs-based extraction of freely available energy from private households in order to ensure the best possible distribution at all times in the sensitive electricity market. From May 2018 to April 2021, four scientific partners (AIT as consortium leader, Vienna University of Technology, Software Competence Center Hagenberg [SCCH] and the Technikum Wien University of Applied Sciences), partners from industry such as FRONIUS INTERNATIONAL and W & Kreisel Group and energy providers are pooling their resources. They are developing various concepts and testing them in large-scale, real-time operational conditions in order to actively involve prosumers in market activities, increase the flexibility of the energy markets and cut the households’ energy costs.

SCCH develops new forecasting models in FLEX+

As experts in forecasting methods, SCCH is developing tools to optimize the retrieval of excess energy from batteries. “To reach decisions we must predict how much energy will be generated in PV systems tomorrow and how high consumption will be,” explains Georgios Chasparis, key researcher for forecast control and optimization at SCCH: All those participating in an intelligent power grid consume and generate energy. The system regulations and the participants’ actions affect each other. “We therefore want to find out how we can decentralize the decision-making process,” explains Chasparis, whose research deals with ways of automating and optimizing systems’ decision-making when only limited information is available. “We’re trying to forecast as accurately as possible how best to extract energy at a particular cost. On the one hand, the batteries’ life should be maintained, but on the other it must be possible to store energy or extract it, for instance when an area in eastern Austria generates a large amount of PV energy at a particular time when in the rest of Austria the sun is not shining. In cooperation with FRONIUS INTERNATIONAL GmbH we’re optimizing a pool of battery storage devices,” says the researcher.

The optimization must also take into account how prices change on the spot and balancing power markets during the course of a day. In the energy system of the future thousands of private households will be involved on the energy market and will buy, exchange and sell electricity as prosumers. In FLEX+ a platform is being created that makes this energy exchange between the participating stakeholders possible. The platform serves the central energy marketing activities of the members of one prosumer group. So that their interests are taken into account, prosumers are integrated in the development of an interface with the energy market. If they offer excess energy when the electricity price is high this indirectly influences demand because when more electricity is fed in the price falls again. The advantage for individual participants, and the incentive to deploy their PV systems, is the cost reduction. Chasparis predicts that, based on the results achieved so far and under ideal conditions, savings of approximately 150 euros per year and participant will be possible relating to batteries alone.

About the project

In the FLEX+ project, various concepts are being developed and tested in large-scale, real-time operating conditions with the aim of making efficient use of the flexibility of remotely controlled prosumer components such as heat pumps, boilers, photovoltaic storage systems and e-mobility for selected services that benefit the system such as trading on spot and balancing energy markets. To this end, scalable optimization algorithms are being developed at aggregator and prosumer level which, taking the aggregator’s (cf. crawlers for web content) interests and the prosumers’ own interests into account, enable all stakeholders the best possible cross-market use and marketing of the existing flexibility. Based on the results of the real-time operation, remuneration models and tariffs for prosumers are developed and necessary processes for prosumers and companies are implemented along the entire value chain.

Project duration: 01/05/2018 - 30/04/2021, Budget: EUR 4 million, www.flexplus.at

Project partners

AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH (coordinator), Vienna University of Technology – Institute of Energy Systems and Electrical Drives, Austria Email Aktiengesellschaft, IDM-Energiesysteme GmbH, W & KREISEL GmbH, Technikum Wien University of Applied Sciences, Software Competence Center Hagenberg GmbH, WEB Windenergie AG, World-Direct eBusiness solutions Gesellschaft m.b.H., TIWAG-Tiroler Wasserkraft AG, Technikum Wien GmbH, Energie AG Oberösterreich Vertrieb GmbH, MS.GIS Informationssysteme Gesellschaft m.b.H., Sonnenplatz Großschönau GmbH, aWATTar GmbH, FRONIUS INTERNATIONAL GmbH

Photo 1:
FLEX+ research team at the consortium meeting, 2019
(c) Software Competence Center Hagenberg

Photo 2:
Flex + provides insights into the optimization potential of battery storage devices for the home

Photo 3:
PV system: Energy from renewable sources is on the increase. The project is researching the productive use of battery storage devices in order to optimize decentralized energy production.
(c) Austrian Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism