Horizon 2020: edgeFLEX – Developing the next generation virtual power plant

The European Research & Innovation project edgeFLEX funded by the Horizon 2020 programme aims at further developing the concept of Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) to manage a wider range of generation and storage assets in a new way.

With the increased share of renewable energy in the energy mix, causing the energy market to change, now is the time to revise the concept of Virtual Power Plants. VPPs need to support not only the promotion of intermittent renewables (RES) but also the integration of all distributed energy resources (DER) into the full scope of grid operations.

To provide grid supportive flexibility, we need an optimal combination of DER and RES with both a slow reaction time for day-ahead trading, as well as a real-time reaction for fast frequency and inertial responses. In a distributed network, VPPs will therefore play the role that synchronous machines play in a traditional system.

edgeFLEX links technical solutions to societal expectations. Short reaction times can be addressed by 5G-powered edge clouds linking dispersed devices in near real-time. In this respect, a new concept of VPPs, with communications corresponding to multiple layers of dynamics, becomes possible. edgeFLEX proposes a new architecture for VPPs deploying such a multi-layer solution, paving the way for a fully renewable energy system. VPPs are brought to a new level, enabling them to interact on markets offering various ancillary services to system operators.

edgeFLEX develops this next generation VPP concept and demonstrates it in the context of three field trials and accompanying laboratory tests. The project explores innovative optimisations, financial tools, and business scenarios for VPPs and assesses the economic and societal impact. The consortium actively works on removing barriers by contributing to standards and European level regulation.

Inea’s role in the project is leading the development of an advanced energy flexibility aggregation system as an extension to the GOFLEX energy trading system developed and used through past projects. The main addition will be the ability to handle distributed reactive energy at the edge of the grid with a so-called REMS (Reactive Energy Management System) and the use of FlexOffer Agents to interconnect flexibility aggregation and trading systems with fast grid service controllers. This will be demonstrated at the trial site in Wunsiedel, Germany, where a functioning active energy observation system developed by INEA is already in place.

Read more about the project at edgeFLEX-h2020.eu and follow the project LinkedIn page for news and updates.

 This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 883710.