The official European Sustainable Development Strategy 2020 and in particular the strategic framework for the energy sector (20-20-20), as reflected in the relevant EU directives, sets clear targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% (compared to the levels of 1990) or by 30% if the conditions are right, increasing the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption by 20% and increasing overall energy efficiency by 20% until 2020.
However, inelasticity of energy demand, coupled with the increasing presence of distributed and renewable energy sources constitute significant challenges that, if not properly addressed, will undoubtedly impact the overall balance of the network in a negative manner. The global potential of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) showed an increase of over 50% (an estimated 240 GW) between 2004 and 2007. Regardless of the global economic recession, existing renewable energy worldwide totaled 1320 GW in 2010 (Source: "REN21-Renewable Energy International Exhibition 2011"). Moreover, if the EU 20/20/20 objectives are met, 75% of the new renewable capacities will be intermittent ones. The unpredictable and variable generation from renewables, sets some critical challenges concerning network management at all levels (distribution, transportation and cross-border). Local networks require costly upgrades to continuously increase their capacity and flexibility towards being able to effectively integrate and accomodate large volumes of variable generation.
According to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy, consumers appear ready to accept the transition to a smart grid, provided that the interface with the smart grid remains simple, easily accessible and in no case intervenes in their everyday lives. In parallel, the EU Action Plan for Energy Efficiency which was published in 2006, highlighted that the biggest cost saving potential, in absolute numbers, is located in the residential buildings sector, where the full potential is estimated at around 27% of energy use.
Demand side management has the hidden potential to overcome some of the major obstacles, when focusing on handling and balancing the electricity network, and become a powerful tool in the hands of TSOs and DSOs, energy services companies and other players in the electricity market (e.g. aggregators). Recent studies have shown that electricity demand can be reduced more quickly than the time required to increase electricity supply from traditional sources of electricity generation. However, the progress that has been made for the development of Demand Response Programs in the EU, still remains at very low levels.
Most of existing network management practices focus on power generation plants (increase of supply) with only a minimum of actions aiming at the effective control of demand / consumption (Demand Side Management). Also, until now, the majority of electricity demand management programs have focused exclusively on large commercial and industrial consumers, failing to integrate energy saving potentials and network management capabilities offered by the vast number of small residential and commercial consumers. The inefficient design of the programs, together with the nuisance posed to consumers and the lack of privacy protection mechanisms, are among the main factors that hinder further market penetration of Demand Response strategies and tools. These factors are directly related to each other and the efficient design of the programs could be a way to encourage consumer participation.
Most of the existing approaches to demand side management are based on centralized boxes and are directly dependent on constant interaction with consumers, demonstrating, thereby, significant disadvantages with reference to their applicability in real-time and responsiveness during specific events occurring in the network.
In response to these needs, HYPERTECH continuously invests in research on innovative strategies for Demand Side Management, aiming to enhance and further expand the potential resulting from Demand Response programs, as a proactive and pragmatic approach to Active Network Management which clearly opposes to any additional increase in power generation.
The deep understanding and real time management of the various parameters that affect demand is, perhaps, the only obvious solution for the active management of the electricity grid in the near future. A future, that will allow DR-DSM providers like Aggregators to better understand their portfolios, businesses / organizations to be able to achieve optimization of energy consumption while maintaining operational performance at high levels and consumers to participate in the formulation of sustainable urban environments without compromising personal habits, living standards and privacy.
Through, both, research and commercial activities, HYPERTECH Energy Labs aim to be the intermediate link between Utilities, Aggregators and consumers and provide the foundation for collaborative and sustainable development. In this context, Hypertech Energy Labs' Research and Technological Development activities, aim at providing cutting-edge solutions and commercial services that will completely address the wide range of future DSM strategies, integrating and taking into account all different types of Distributed Energy Resources (DER).