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Local electricity communities

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Backgrounder


How to set up an energy exchange system within a local community while minimizing production and distribution costs?

French bylaw 2016-1019 (passed on 27 July 2016) will allow communities to self-supply electricity starting in 2017. That bylaw defines community self-supply in terms of power supplies that one or more producers and one or more consumers pool, and states that said producers and consumers must belong to a single organisation, and that the power must be sourced and supplied through a single low-voltage node in the public power distribution network.

 

The underlying idea is to promote “energy communities”, i.e. clusters of stakeholders that are physically connected to the same low-voltage node, that produce power in their own facilities (solar farms, for instance) and that have decided to source more of the power they consume from those facilities. These communities may choose to pool their electricity for financial, social and/or environmental reasons.

 

In these decentralised electricity communities, in other words, producers and consumers will be able to give, buy or sell electricity generated within their cluster and thereby lower their energy bills, optimise their investments and/or fulfil a civic duty.

 

This raises several questions, such as how to set up an energy sharing system scaled for a local community, how to connect energy producers and consumers, how they can trade energy at any time with a view to achieving predetermined objectives, and how to make these systems available to all.

Corporates

Startups

  • The problem

  • Use case and experiment field

  • Business opportunities for the stakeholders

  • Results

How to set up an energy exchange system within a local community while minimising production and distribution costs?

The possible experiment fields for startups working on this challenge:

 

A- A real-life demonstrator at the Challenger facility in the Bouygues Energie & Services head office:

 

  • The consumers and producers belong to the same legal entity
  • The consumers and producers are connected to the same private network behind a single power-supply point
  • The consumers and producers will use a single interface
  • Consumption and production will be measured in real time using individual meters; consumers will probably be businesses

 

 

B- A real-life demonstrator at EDF’s Les Renardières facility (a concept grid):

 

  • The consumers and producers belong to the same legal entity
  • The consumers and producers are connected to the same private network behind a single power-supply point
  • The consumers and producers will use a single interface
  • Consumption and production will be measured in real time using Linky technology; consumers will be households and businesses

 

C- A virtual demonstrator, where entirely unrelated and remote sites pool their production and consumption charts (e.g. a Nexity building in Clichy Batignolles or buildings in Aix en Provence) and where:

 

  • The opportunities for transactions are analysed at a later time
  • An interface may be tested with users, but not in real-life conditions

 

 

The goal for the experiment will be to devise a demonstrator enabling real-time transactions based on a concept akin to an exchange, and to measure supply and demand. The challenges will inter alia include:

 

 

  • Connecting supply and demand
  • Interfacing metering technology (case A and case B)
  • Gathering and publishing information about energy flows bought, consumed and resold, and the information required to compile transaction totals, on both sides (producers and consumers)
  • Enabling each system stakeholder to tally up transaction totals
  • In light of the scenarios, contributing to orchestrating flows (e.g. a network balance management role suggesting tariffs based on purchasing habits, i.e. predictive deals encouraging load shedding, contributory deals, etc.)

 

The data sets provided by the partners include:

 

10-minute load charts for all consumption and production points included in identified experiment fields.

The startups could supply solutions to various companies partnering this challenge:

 

  • EDF subsidiaries such as EDF ENRS could bundle the solutions into their service deals (e.g. Mon Soleil et Moi)
  • Bouygues Energies & Services (BYES) could do likewise, and is already involved in several Smart Grid projects
  • Nexity could blend the solutions into its property developments; Nexity Cities & Projects is packaging energy production and consumption pooling technologies into its projects
  • La Poste may use the solution in its buildings

Linc developed a back-end technology to test a real energy exchange between electricity consumers and producers, using Linc innovative smart meters. The actual exchange test was performed at EDF R&D Lab Les Renardières.
Linc also developed with the support of NUMA mentors a visual interface enabling to test the value proposal of joining a local energy community for an energy consumer. The challenge partners performed user interviews, thus gathering insights to align the value proposal with the end user expectations.

Impacts
Grid network maintenance represents today approximately 30% of the electricity bill of a household, a potential costs saving with local microgrids

 

– In France, about 1.4% of the electricity was produced by PV technology in 2015. In 2023, according to the Energy Planning Plan* it is expected to produce 3 times more

– But the feed-in tariff for domestic installation of PV has been reduced by almost 60% between 2009 and 2017 and in the near future it is planned for extinction.

– Energy communities (transacting communities) could bring considerable support to PV investors, by allowing them to valorize 100% of the electricity they produce locally.

 

*(Plan Pluriannuel de l’Energie, 28/10/2016)