Reference Project Universal Smart Energy Framework

Reference Project Universal Smart Energy Framework

Reference project “Universal Smart Energy Framework” (USEF) in cooperation with network operator Stedin Netbeheer B.V. The goal is to use Venios Energy Solution (VES) to create an integrated smart grid that efficiently connects suppliers and users of flexibility. The Intention is to realise optimised network management and reduce network expansion requirements.

What is Flexibility? How Can It be Created and Used for Network Management?

Flexibility refers to a potential for shifting consumption and supply at the distribution grid level, which in turn can be used intelligently to better match consumption and feed-in and to cushion feed-in peaks or consumption peaks. At a local level, active management of demand and supply through the use of flexibility can contribute to improved grid stability and reduce grid expansion needs.

In order for flexibility to be available for active control, legal and technological foundations must first be created: on the demand side, e.g. incentives for the end customer to shift or reduce consumption at specific times by making the electricity price more flexible. In the area of ​​larger producers and consumers, such as solar parks or industrial companies, integration into active grid control by the supplier can be implemented through contractual arrangements. Storage technologies can also be used for load shifting by loading during times of high feed-in that can be used again during times of high load.

The basic requirement for the use of the available flexibility in the distribution network is sufficient transparency regarding feed-in and consumption at this level. With sufficient data, feed-in and consumption forecasts allow the prediction of excess capacity and network bottlenecks, which can be actively compensated by linking them to the flexibility available for control (Figure 1).


Figure 1 – Principle of the USEF project on the use of flexibility

The Challenges in the Project “Universal Smart Energy Framework” are Typical for the Energy Transition

An increase in individual PV systems and their feed-in into the low-voltage grid is increasingly burdensome to the Dutch power grid, leading to capacity problems. In addition, there is an increasing number of electric vehicles and charging stations, which brings the grid capacity to its limits on the consumption side.

Network operator Stedin Netbeheer B.V. in Rotterdam has recognized this problem in its network area and, within the USEF project, relies on active grid management through use of flexibility to reduce overload situations in the low-voltage grid. On one hand, legal questions on contractual agreements are relevant, to make it possible to use flexibilities that exist in industry and households. On the other hand, technological challenges have to be tackled in order to combine the supply and demand for flexibility efficiently and in a timely manner.

“Universal Smart Energy Framework” (USEF) as the Framework for Contractual Agreements for an Integrated Smart Grid

The “Universal Smart Energy Framework” (USEF) in the project with network operator Stedin Netbeheer B.V. is a legal framework for the creation of an integrated smart grid. The framework was developed by the USEF Foundation, a non-profit organisation consisting of seven companies from the smart energy environment: ABB, Alliander, DNV GL, Essent, IBM, ICT Automation and Stedin.

The framework defines the actors of such a smart grid, their roles and the contractual arrangements. It serves as the legal basis for the implementation of the project’s objectives and for other smart energy products and services that can build on it.

Venios Energy Solution makes Flexibility Visible and Usable

Venios Energy Solution (VES) is the central technological building block for identification and use of flexibility under USEF. VES is used for network security analysis, generation of flexibility information and network control.

For network security analysis, the relevant distribution network with all consumers and generators is modeled cost-optimally by using existing measurement data combined with models in VES and grid state calculations are performed. By linking various information of the distribution network (measurement data, grid information, consumption forecasts, load and generation forecasts), it can be used as an overall system to identify network bottlenecks and possible flexibility, making them technically usable. For this purpose, the optimisation algorithm of VES generates flexibility information, which is sent to the generation units in the USEF framework for network Control, on the basis of which generators can be switched on or off situationally.

To ensure data security, encrypted delivery channels and a data security system are used. In the further course of the project, the modular design of VES allows the integration and control of other smart grid technologies, such as storage, controllable local power transformers, or smart meters, as well as a simple extension to other grid areas beyond those of the current project.

The integration of VES into the overall system is shown in Figure 2 below.


Figure 2 – Role of VES in the overall system (Source: Stedin Netbeheer B.V.)

Outlook on the Development of the Distribution Network Through the Use of Flexibility

The objectives pursued by the project have a far-reaching effect on the entire system surrounding the electricity distribution network. On one hand, integrating and involving all actors in the overall smart grid system creates incentives and acceptance for the use of flexibility. On the other hand, selective control on the basis of flexibility in consumption and production helps to combat bottlenecks in the distribution grid. In the future development of the distribution grid, electric vehicles, charging stations, and battery storage can be integrated easier and more efficiently into the network and grid expansion costs can be saved.

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