EU-SysFlex blog: EU-SysFlex Flexibility Roadmap

14.07.2021News

The EU-SysFlex project has entered its final year of activity. The project’s studies and results are progressively being incorporated into a long-term roadmap to facilitate the large-scale integration of renewable energy across Europe. The roadmap task started its serious work in September 2020 and will continue until the project’s final month. This blog outlines the range of “roadmap” related activities across the project, introduces the general concept of a roadmap, as well as outlining the intended structure of the flexibility roadmap and the next steps towards its completion.

What is a roadmap?

Roadmaps outline a future goal and answer a series of “why-what-how-when” questions in order to build an action plan towards achieving that goal [1]. In the context of the EU SysFlex project, these questions could be presented as follows:

  • What is meant by the term flexibility, and why might its scarcity be an issue for the pan-European power system in 2030 and beyond?
  • What are the main challenges in providing sufficient flexibility to the system, and what capabilities/solutions are required to address these challenges?
  • How can the necessary capabilities/solutions be encouraged to appear, and enabled to improve system flexibility and address the identified challenges?
  • When do we need to take different actions to ensure that flexibility concerns are resolved in a reasonable timeframe and in a cost-effective manner?

In addition, the roadmap will provide an action plan that outlines necessary actions, the timeline of adoption for different actions, required resources to achieve the identified solutions, and risks and enablers associated with individual solutions (also known as “to- do’s” [1]). But, why do we need the roadmap?

  • The roadmapping process provides cross-functional planning to evaluate potential strategies and ways to implement those strategies.
  • Roadmaps incorporate an explicit element of time. Roadmapping helps decision-makers ensure that they will have those capabilities and technologies when they need them to carry out their strategy.
  • Roadmaps can highlight gaps in existing plans. Corrective measures can be proposed and implemented before problems begin to materialise.
  • Roadmaps can help to prioritise investments based on input drivers. Thus, system planners are prompted to identify, implement, develop, or acquire the most important things first, spending time and resources in the best way.
  • Roadmaps provide a guide to decision-makers, allowing them to recognise and act upon events that require a change in direction. Part of the process of developing a roadmap is to create a risk perspective, identifying those events, or changes in conditions, that signal a need to reevaluate and revisit the plan during the development journey.
  • Sharing roadmaps allows strategic use of technology across the system/environment. Cross-roadmap reviews help to identify common needs, capabilities that can be leveraged, or development costs that can be shared. Roadmaps can also support a common corporate database of available or needed technologies.
  • A roadmap communicates with different stakeholders, and provides a common language in relation to the needs, requirements, and pathways of different parties. [2]

The Flexibility Roadmap

The transition to a future power system with a high share of renewable energy sources is not “business as normal”. Moreover, due to the size, level of interconnection, nature of the existing generation portfolio, etc. individual power systems will be at different stages of readiness for such a dramatic change. Therefore, we need precise, consistent, and efficient approaches and strategies to ensure that the power system, as a whole, will remain as reliable and resilient as it is now. A roadmap can act as a “compass”, which guides all relevant parties in the same direction. It helps to ensure that planning gaps are identified at an early stage and closed, as needed, in the future. It also serves as a guide for individual power systems along their journey towards decarbonisation, allowing them to recognise and act on events that require a major change of direction and which involve the co-ordinated actions of multiple parties. Overall, the SysFlex flexibility roadmap has the aim of communicating the pan-European power system’s plan to a wide range of different stakeholders: decision-makers, regulators, system operators, technology developers, etc., as depicted below.

The flexibility roadmap incorporates the findings and results of the EU-SysFlex project to provide a pathway that facilitates large-scale renewable energy integration across Europe. It is built on the scalability and replicability analysis (SRA) of results from the project demonstrations across France, Ireland, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Finland, Poland, and Estonia, and the deliverables examining technical scarcities, system services and market design, system operator procedures, and data management. The demonstrations are providing evidence of how the timely provision of system services can be achieved using a range of new approaches to coordinate the resources, actors and new technology mixes present in the future European system. They have focused, in particular, on those methods and procedures which can enable the supply of required capabilities, such as co-ordinated reactive power or rapid active power up/down responses. Potential strategies include improved load/wind/PV forecasting, grid state estimation, sophisticated optimisation tools, aggregation of distributed flexibility resources, enhanced data exchange, etc. Consequently, the scalability and replicability analysis aims to assess how and whether those solutions tested in the field are scalable to large power system areas, and replicable from one country/area to another.

Considering the “why-what-how-when-to do” structure for the roadmap, the “why” aspect clearly relates to the EU’s ambition to decarbonise the power and energy system, which implies a more significant share of renewable energy sources, as well as a considerable increase in electricity consumption due to electrification of the heat and transportation sectors. The “what” aspect identifies the system scarcities and technical challenges that are resulting from the decarbonisation targets, and identifies existing (and future) mitigation capabilities for dealing with such scarcities. Market design and commercial frameworks, operational measures and procedures, and data management issues are also addressed.

The “How” section presents those solutions developed within the EU-SysFlex project, and how they have been successfully tested and validated in real-world demonstrations. Collectively, they can be categorised as measures to improve coordination between TSOs and DSOs, to aggregate distributed resources with other resources, to implement digital data management solutions, and to integrate new and renewable technologies to support system operation. Finally, the “When” or “To do” section of the roadmap incorporates high-level guidelines and policies, risks and enablers associated with individual solutions, and an implementation plan and schedule for different regions of the European system towards facilitating large-scale integration of renewable energy sources.

Work progress and next steps

The flexibility roadmap task began its work in earnest by focusing on developing and agreeing the roadmap’s structure. The roadmap team consists of the task lead (University College Dublin) and a task force comprised of various project partners (EDF, EirGrid, VITO, Imperial College, SONI, and Elering), aiming for effective engagement and support across the different aspects of the project. Also, bi-monthly “Scalability and roadmap” meetings provide a direct connection with all project partners to discuss all subjects related to the roadmap’s development, and to receive valuable inputs from all experts across the project. As a result, several roadmap structures, and associated audiences and purposes, were created and intensely debated by the project partners, representing diverse power system stakeholders, before arriving at a final agreed consensus. The roadmap team attempted to establish a comprehensive structure that can capture all the valuable features and experiences of the project, while also being able to deliver the key messages towards realising a reliable and resilient European power system with a high share of renewables. As a result of the above discussions it has been agreed that there should be a “detailed” technical roadmap, which will summarise the major outcomes and conclusions of the project, supported by a “concise” roadmap, which will focus mainly on the integrated messages and action plan for the pan-European power system during the next ten years. The latter document will be quite high-level, non-technical, stand-alone, and specifically aimed at policymakers.

Having identified the details of the roadmap structure, the roadmap team began to draft a first version of the final document, focusing on the “why” and the “what”, i.e. roadmap objectives, system scarcities and challenges, mitigation options for the scarcities, market design approaches, data management, and an operating framework. The draft document was distributed to all project stakeholders, and based on the feedback recieved the roadmap team is now revising the document and establishing a consistent writing and presentation style across all chapters.

Next steps for the roadmap involve focusing on the “How” and “To-Do”/”When”. For the former aspect, incorporating the findings from the demonstration activities will be critical. There has been much engagement with the demo partners during the last year, however, final conclusions from all the various demonstrations will likely take a few more months to be confirmed. It is the intention that all of the solutions developed and tested within the project should be recognised, as well as confirming the risks and enablers associated with individual solutions, and establishing an action plan to implement the solutions at scale. In addition, high-level integrated recommendations and policies must be delivered. Finally, external stakeholders, including the project advisory board, will be consulted concerning the messaging, ambition and comprehensiveness of the roadmap document before it is finally released. So, much has been done, there is much still to do, and expect to hear more about the flexibility roadmap soon.

 

References:

[1] R. E. Albright, “A unifying architecture for roadmaps frames a value scorecard,” IEMC ’03 Proceedings. Managing Technologically Driven Organisations: The Human Side of Innovation and Change, 2003, pp. 383-386, doi: 10.1109/IEMC.2003.1252298.

[2] R. E. Albright, Ten Reasons to Roadmap, Albright Strategy, http://www.albrightstrategy.com/ten_reasons.html

 

Written by: Amir Moshari (UCD), Damian Flynn (UCD), Robert Soler (EDF)

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Disclaimer: blog entries reflect individual views of the author(s) that may not reflect official positions or communication of the project / project consortium.