CE&E Case / Denmark

EcoGrid: Consumer engagement in the future power system

Denmark: EcoGrid, consumer engagement in the future power system


Project Title EcoGrid: Consumer engagement in the future power system
Location lsland of Bornholm, Denmark
Time Period of Project March 2011to Auqust 2015
Link to Project Website www.eu-ecoqrid.net
Key Word Residential Households,


Project Background

Worldwide, the share of renewable generation from wind and solar in the energy mix is growing and is expected to keep on doing so. There will be a higher need for fast balancing power in the future. Activating the electricity demand and bringing electricity consumers into the market create additional capacities to balance the power system in a secure and economical way. The purpose is in large-scale to test how much every tenth electricity consumers on the Danish island Bornholm can contribute with flexible consumption and how test participants equipped with demand response devices with smart controllers and smart meters will respond to real-time prices based on their pre-programmed demand-response preferences. One of the key challenges is to enable demand response of small-scale electricity customers through a real-time market based on five minute price signals. This would give the TSO/DSO a new, additional and important tool for balancing the power system on a very short notice.

Approach/project conduct related to consumer engagement and empowerment: The project wanted to recruit test participants who represent the ‘average’ electricity customer and not-only the ‘first movers’ (e.g. people especially concerned about environmental issues). Recruitment of minimum 10 % of the residential electricity customers was supposed to meet this criterion. Beside customer analysis, recruitment (acquisition) plan and measures the initiatives related to empowering and involvement of EcoGrid test houses include

  1. Establishment of educational and advisory customer services
  2. Selection of EcoGrid ambassadors and an exteral reference gioup
  3. Evaluation of customer satisfaction, participation and acceptance, and
  4. Eval uation of efficiency benefits/demand response/bon us.


Case Description

The objective of the EcoGrid project is to allow small-scale/residential electricity consumers to participate in the power market and contribute to the balancing of renewable electricity generation by active demand response to five minute real-time price signals. And thereby it is trying to illustrate that modern information and communication technology (ICT) and innovative market solutions can enable the operation of a power system with more than 50% renewable energy sources (RES) such as wind, biomass and photovoltaic (PV). EcoGrid is a large-scale Smart Grid demonstration project. The field test is located on Bornholm – a Danish island electrically connected to the Nordic electricity market. Approx. 1,900 residential electricity consumers and up to 100 commercial customers are participating in the field test. This represents almost every tenth electricity consumers on the island. The majority of the test participants are equipped with demand response devices with smart controllers and advanced metering infrastructure. One of the project focus/outcomes in relation to customer satisfaction is to maintain at least 80 % of participants interested during the entire test period (finalized autumn 2015). lt is important to continuously manage participants’ expectations. An ambitious EcoGrid/Smart Grid information and education program is one of the means to obtain consumer engagement and empowerment.

A bid-less, real-time electricity market based on five-minute price forecasts, and five-minute price signal resolutions pose new and complex requirements to data, data security and scalability that must be addressed in the development of ICT solutions. To ensure confidentiality, the security requirements considered in EcoGrid EU are related to:

  • The origin price information must be trusted (authenticity)
  • The price information is not altered while being transported (integrity)
  • The source cannot deny published price information (non-repudiation)
  • The price information distributed cannot get injected at a later point in time for another time period (non-re-playability)


■ Why an EcoGrid EU Real-time Market?

Today, the electricity grid is primarily a road for moving electricity in a one-way flow from large power generation plants.
Significant changes to the power system must be foreseen, as traditional energy resources are replaced by local renewable generation connected to the distribution system. Tomorrow’s power system will include a variety of distributed and local energy resources as well as accommodating electric vehicles. This will require two-way flow of both electricity and information as new technologies enable new forms of generation, supply and uses. New solutions, including wider use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and automation will be necessary, as well as reinforced electricity grid and improved power trading opportunities. Without this, there is a risk of insufficient power system security and reliability, as well as inefficient utilisation of eg new wind power capacity. Generation of electricity from fluctuating renewable sources such as wind, biomass and photovoltaics poses a challenge to the power grid. Although generation from these sources can be forecasted, the availability of power fluctuates and always depends on weather circumstances that cannot be controlled (wind, rain and sun).
Even if the energy generated follows the forecast perfectly, it may still not match the consumers’ need for electricity.

Renewable energy in general and wind power in particular already plays an important role in many areas in Europe.
In Germany, the share of wind power is 7.8% of electricity consumption (2012). A high concentration of wind power in the Northern part of Germany creates together with the import from north a surplus of electricity which must be moved to the west and to the south of Europe. In Denmark, the share of wind power is 30% of the total electricity consumption (2012).
In 2020, the energy strategy of the Danish government is to increase the share of renewable energy to 35% of total energy consumption, implying that 50% of the electricity consumption in Denmark is supplied by wind power in 2020. Wind power already covers and exceeds the entire Danish demand for electricity in many hours the course of a year. This situation will appear more frequently in the future – significantly increasing the need for power balancing resources. Currently, international connections provide most of the balancing of wind power in the power system. In future, there will be more competition for power balancing resources and the costs of these resources are expected to increase significantly.

The development of a real-time electricity market is considered one of the most efficient ways to meet the challenges in operating a power system with increasing shares of renewable sources:

  •  The EcoGrid EU real-time market has a very high time resolution (five minutes), which improves the capability to manage high amounts of rapidly fluctuating renewable energy sources.
  • The market price is set in the very last minute, meaning that very accurate forecasts of wind power and demand can be utilised when determining the market price. It means that problems with forecast errors inherently present in conventional markets are minimised.
  • Compensate for traditional balancing resources: The real-time market will increase the demand-side market participation and thereby reduce the need for costly flexibility on the production side and/or compensates for traditional balancing power and services from conventional generation displaced by generation based on renewable energy sources.
  • The EcoGrid EU real-time market will improve the utilisation of the inherent (free) flexibility in eg thermal loads (load-shifting potential).
  • Activation of a large number of customers will improve the function and competition in the power market through increased market participation and by connecting the wholesale market with the retail market (increase retail competition).

Furthermore, the activation of the demand side, through the real-time market, enables locational pricing for congesting management. This will result in better use of grid capacity, reducing and deferring costs for reinforcements of the distribution network.

Figure. Demand-Participation in the System-Wide Market for Energy and Balancing in the Transmission Network

■  The Fundamentals of the Real-time Market Concept

The EcoGrid EU market concept is based on the publication of real-time price signals. Adapting the behaviour of flexible resources like electric heating and heat pumps will contribute to maintaining the balance of supply and demand in the power system. From the wholesale market perspective, this implies that a five-minute price signal is created by for example the TSO, by continuously monitoring the power system and adjusting the price signal to correct the balance of the system.
To do so, it is necessary to create reliable forecasts of the expected response to price changes. These will be utilised when computing the marginal price change required to trigger a response of the right size, leading to a proper rebalancing of the system.

As the wind power and photovoltaics production increases, so will the need for more dynamics in the power system. The real-time market makes it possible to manage many resources, ie activate a great potential of flexible resources on the demand side that is currently inactive. Therefore, the introduction of real-time market will be an obvious step in the further development of the existing electricity wholesale markets and balancing markets that creates more favourable conditions for the future composition of renewable generation and energy resources. This will not necessarily require a replacement of, but an extension of the current market set-up. Today and in the future, most of distributed energy resources under the current framework face barriers to supply balancing services. The market operation is currently based on an hourly time resolution that does not reflect the actual dynamics in the power system. The EcoGrid EU real-time market approach means that the trades in the power market are based on what the market players actually do, rather than what they promise to do, which is the practise in the current markets like the day-ahead spot market.

The real-time market concept is based on a ‘bidless’ market with price announcement ex-ante. This implies that the final settlement price is determined by prediction of the real-time price responsiveness rather than on explicit bids as known from conventional auction based power markets. A bidless market minimises the efforts (transaction costs) put in by small-scale electricity customers or small power generation units, because they must not create bids and schedules, but simply respond to the actual market prices.

The proposed real-time market concept operates with very high time resolutions (five minutes). It will increase the market based balancing options and will be an efficient supplement to more costly direct control options (eg congestion management).


Figure. EcoGrid Real-time Market



The customer as we know him or her today wants to consume electricity, so they start the ‘money flow’ by purchasing such electricity from retailers. In addition, the customers pay the electricity grid company/distribution system operators (DSO) for the use of the electricity grid and for the meter and for billing. The market operator trades electricity by ‘buying’ electricity from producers and ‘selling’ it to retailers. In the EcoGrid EU market, the situation is identical with the situation today, but the EcoGrid EU customers also provide balancing power – a flexibility service to the transmission system operator (TSO). It is the retailer or the balance responsible partners that manages this transaction with the TSO on behalf of their customers. In the EcoGrid EU model, the relation between the retailer and the customer stays entirely in the liberalised market and the customer is free to choose a retailer and a contract model as offered by the retailer of his choice.



The first phase of the EcoGrid EU demonstration was initiated in May 2013. During this phase, the basic real-time pricing is tested through a so-called ‘open-loop’ approach. This implies that the real-time price only will be based on external price information from the Nordic power market (Nord Pool) and balancing markets, as well as system information about availability of wind power. Market rules of the Nordic power system prohibit publishing information reflecting the present power system balance. Therefore, the development of five minute real-time prices are based on the experience gained through the actual demand response of the test participants on Bornholm and realistic public information available about power prices.

Experience gained from the test participants’ reaction to basic real-time price signals provides valuable knowledge and input to forecast of demand response. This facilitates testing more advanced real-time pricing through a so-called ‘closed-loop’ approach that expands the market concept with forecasts of demand response in the second phase of the EcoGrid EU project. Based on the forecast of demand response, real-time prices are calculated and broadcasted to the market in order to obtain a certain objective, ie the amount of balancing resources required by the system operator(s). The balancing services can include a certain net consumption/generation from the distributed energy resources, or a certain reduction of import of electricity with the neighbouring countries or the mainland.

This will facilitate testing the system’s ability to follow an objective, eg a certain area or portfolio balance position, thus bringing the demonstration scenario one step closer to a full-scale implementation, where the objective is overall system balance. The price calculation will utilise advanced demand response forecast models to calculate the price corrections necessary to follow the objective.

The impact on the overall power system balance (ie the Nordic power system) will be negligible, and it is therefore not feasible to generate the price signal at the Nordic power system level, using the system-wide balance as feedback. Therefore, (live) feedback signal will be obtained at local area level (ie for the Bornholm power system area) and/or from live signals from the interval meters.



The real-time price response can be realised in several different ways – with and without help from automatic control systems and home automation solutions. Four test groups will test different solutions to realise the demand response to real-time prices:

  • The manual control group (500 residential consumers)
  • The automatic control group with IBM/GreenWave home automation system (700 residential consumers)
  • The automatic control group with Siemens/SyncoLiving home automation system (500 residential consumers)
  • The group of industry/commercial buildings with Siemens automation systems (up to 100 companies)

The manual control group only has access to real-time price information, ie none of their electric household devices are automatically controlled. The manual control group will only receive manual response assistance, eg through training/energy advice and a feedback system with consumption and price information (see type A in the figure 4). The automatic control groups and the group of industry/commercial buildings will beside manual assistance also receive technical assistance.
All of the automated households will have home automation equipment installed in order to optimise the operation of their electric heating, heat pumps or similar large appliances. Two main approaches are used to realise the demand response of the automated test participants:

  1. Automatic control of individual electric devices/resources (see type B in figure 4)
  2. Aggregated control of a portfolio of electric devices/resources (see type C and D in figure 4)

Figure. Four different ways to Implement Real-time Price Response


■ The ICT Platform and Software Solutions

The ICT system and software solutions supporting the Eco-Grid EU real-time market concept do not start from scratch.
The ICT architecture is based on existing software solutions available on the market today, which have been tested in other field situations. The project demonstrates software, all developed to address the development of Smart Grid functions and in this case, the function of the real-time market.

Real-time electricity prices are generated at the price generation module every five minutes. The ICT implementation consists of a price generation module and price distribution components. The price generation module takes input from i) TSO, ii) electricity spot market, iii) historical metering data, and iv) weather forecasts. The generation module sends prices and price forecasts to the price distribution system, which uses publish-subscribe technology to broadcast the real-time price information to the customers. The EcoGrid EU ICT concept describes a solution to combine publish-subscribe and so-called internet provider multicast technologies (a method for sending Internet Protocol datagrams to a group of interested receivers in a single transmission). This functionality is required for scaling the ICT system up for nationwide use. Different internet service providers (ISPs) of an area subscribe to the relevant price signals and within the ISP domains, relevant price streams are multi-casted. This means that the solution can be scaled-up, and in case of a massive deployment of the real-time market concept system across the EU member states, it could accommodate millions of residential electricity customers. Smart devices or end-nodes adjust their planned consumption according to the price information. All households are connected to a smart electricity meter, which measures the power consumption of the device(s) every five minutes. The measured power consumption data is uploaded to the historical metering data repository once every 10 minutes. Figure 5 shows the implementation and the key components of the ICT architecture for real-time price distribution in Eco-Grid EU.

Figure 8. The EcoGrid ICT architecture



The central component for implementing the EcoGrid EU real-time market and interface between the existing power markets and the households is an IBM BladeCenter server, which is installed at an Oestkraft facility on Bornholm. In addition to hosting the EcoGrid EU real-time market, this server hosts the billing application, which is adapted to the real-time market price interval, database and asset management subsystems, user administration, as well as central components of the IBM and the Siemens solution solutions. The server is network connected with appropriate security mechanisms, including user authentication and firewalls. The ICT platform supports a number of user interfaces to allow the various actors to interact with the systems, e.g.

  •  Customers of Siemens and IBM houses are granted access to a portal to view the current status of the houses, including control parameters and temperature readings
  • Customers are given access to billing information, including a view of their economic benefits
  • Customers are allowed to see all aspects of price information, including historical, current, and forecasted values



The test households under automatic price control will be tested in houses with IBM-GreenWave equipment and Siemens equipment respectively. The solutions are based either on individual-household control or so-called aggregator control. Aggregator control is a solution which aggregates the participants’ consumption/generation and influences the behaviour (eg new temperature set points) of the connected appliances– depending on the flexibility of the individual participants on the one hand and the requirement of the power system on the other hand. In this way, the available flexibility in the aggregated set can be strategically operated to maximise the financial yield. At the same time, this maximises the impact on power system balancing as the available flexibility is used at the times when the imbalance situation is the most severe.

One part of the IBM-Greenwave houses can be configured into single-household price agent, and another part into aggregated control. All Siemens houses will be under aggregator control. Two types of aggregated price response methods will be tested. A distributed energi management system (DEMS) application (DEMS) from Siemens and a PowerMatcher application (PM) from TNO/IBM. The DEMS and the PM control the price response in an optimal way for both the power system and the flexible consumer or supplier.



These houses are controlled by individual price agents implemented by IBM. This means that there is a smart controller connected to each household, containing a model of the individual heating system, household and inhabitants’ requirements.
The models receive input from archived historic power needs for seasonal ambient temperatures in the context of desired user settings. The one-way price agent embraces the model and predicts the optimal heating panel or heat pump control to stay over time within the desired comfort settings, while exploiting the five-minute real-time price signals. The control decision to optimise consumption/generation according to the price and the forecasts is then taken locally and under the responsibility of the customer/owner, who is then settled using this price.

Figure. Example of the GreenWave Reality Smart Home solution



The Synco Living home automation solution – an already existing product portfolio from Siemens – is used to control the electric heating and/or domestic hot water boiler via contactors installed in the fuse box of the participants and thermometer probe in the boiler. Depending on the accessibility and wiring of the house, several heating zones, as well as control of the boiler control are created. The automation can be bypassed via manual switches on the contractors. The equipment package to the EcoGrid EU customers consists of a central unit/control panel that is connected to the internet. Settings can be made both on this unit as well on a web user interface. Micro circuit breakers (MCBs) provided by Siemens perform control of the electric heating. These MCBs are controlled from the central unit based on wireless temperature measurements from the inside and outside of the houses. By attaching an additional thermostat on the hot water boiler and by overriding the normal temperature setting, the electrically heated hot water can be controlled. Enabling control of the domestic hot water boilers is essential, as they can provide flexibility all-year round in contrast to space heating appliances.



All test participants are equipped with new remotely read electricity meters provided by Landis+Gyr. Settlement of account and registration of the actual power consumption make it easy to get minute-to-minute overview of the power consumption in the course of the day and the month (in Eco-Grid EU, the price is settled every five minutes). The meter will send consumption data to a database from Oestkraft. Most of the meters will be read based in the mobile network which means that the meter data is sent to the database every 10 minutes. Some meters will also be read based on PLC or fibre optic. Real-time data can be provided from these meters.

Figure. Siemens SyncoLiving in-house control panel


The Smart Grid innovations in the EcoGrid EU project will be ‘invisible’ for most people. However, what is visible for the test-participants are the EcoHome equipment, eg how does the equipment work and what does it look like? A considerable share of the test participants have expressed that the motivation for participating in EcoGrid EU was the installation of new smart equipment. Once the customers have signed up for EcoGrid EU, one of the most frequently asked questions to Oestkraft has been: “When will my smart equipment be installed”?

An important part of the IBM/GreenWave smart solution is the user interfaces/feedback systems connected to the home automation system. The participants will have online access to information about the household’s electricity consumption and more detailed information about their EcoHome controlled equipment, e.g. heat pump or electric heating. The participants with solutions from Siemens have access to a central control panel installed with the equipment in the house. Some customers prefer this kind of user interface, so they do not necessarily need access to a computer to control their heating. The settings can also, if preferred, be made on the web-based user interface. All EcoGrid EU participants (except for the statistical control group) will also be introduced to the common user interface ‘My EcoGrid’, which is the real-time price feedback system developed specifically for the project.

The recruitment process is considered a success. By August 2013, the objective of 1,900 test households on Bornholm was almost realised. Before starting the EcoGrid EU recruitment, the communication activities on Bornholm were targeted at raising general awareness of Smart Grid and the EcoGrid EU project among the entire public on the island. The media was informed through press releases and a press conference. EcoGrid EU folders were distributed at local events such as the annual Energy Days on Bornholm. Oestkraft was represented with posters and information material. Ostkraft’s investment in the demonstration house, Villa Smart, represents an important part of the communication about EcoGrid EU and Smart Grid. The demonstration house is one of the first of its kind that puts the ordinary electricity consumer in the centre. The house represents a ‘normal’ house, showing the visitor the equipment used in EcoGrid EU– called EcoHome.

One month after the recruitment kick-off at the demonstration house Villa Smart (February 2012), approximately 366 households corresponding to 15% of the required households were signed up for EcoGrid EU. During the next six to eight months, almost 50% of the participants were enrolled in the project without very strong information activities, although more focused acquisition and recruitment efforts. For many, the enormous interest in participating in the pilot test was unexpectedly high. In a field test that will have to involve every tenth residential household on Bornholm, it is not realistic that you will find only enthusiasts, first movers or early adopters of new technology/Smart Grid solutions. The recruitment efforts must pay a lot of attention to the so-called mainstream group – people generally not especially interested in energy issues. This was also Oestkraft experienced during the recruitment process.

The first EcoGrid EU survey and interviews of electricity customers on Bornholm – in advance of the recruitment – showed that a very large group of the respondents were positive towards real-time tariffs and wanted to be flexible and use electric equipment when electricity prices were low. A very high percentage of the respondents (72%) would accept remote/automatic control of their household equipment. Although the importance of financial incentives for end customers in the survey is clearly evident, a considerable percentage of participants in the survey rated environment very high. However, the 300 customers included in the survey are not representative for Bornholm. They have higher income than that of the average household and belong to a privileged group, which is supposed to be ’first movers’, and were also the first customers who signed up to EcoGrid EU. It is estimated that approximately 90% of the customers in the first survey have signed up for EcoGrid EU. It was decided early in the project that the communication with the public should focus on the social values and environmental aspects rather than individual financial benefits of participating in the EcoGrid EU field test. In addition, the participants are guaranteed that they will not ‘lose money’ by participating in EcoGrid EU. In total, the participants will never pay more for the electricity compared to what they pay according to their normal contract.

Along with direct mails to electrically heated households, an ambitious information and recruitment campaign was initiated. On 3 February 2013, Oestkraft invited to public EcoGrid EU event on Bornholm. Aside from the goal of involving the existing participants, the objective was also to attract new participants. In order to create ‘word-of-mouth’, EcoGrid EU postcards and advertisements were distributed to 70% of all households on Bornholm through the local newspaper ‘Bornholms Tidende’. The message of the campaign was: “We are still looking for more participants, particularly those with electric heating/heat pumps”. The first part of the event was dedicated to the existing participants. The second part was an open EcoGrid EU café for all customers on Bornholm, where the visitors could ask questions and sign up for the demonstration. The visitors could enjoy free cake and coffee, exhibitions, short talks by the mayor of Bornholm, Energinet.dk and the Danish Consumer Council as well as entertainment by a local band. About 1,000 persons showed up and spent a great part of their Sunday at the event.

To attract the last participants, Oestkraft sent a second direct mail to 2,500 customers with electric heating. The message was: “If you want to participate – this is your last chance…”. It proved to be very efficient. In one week, 100 more electrically heated households were recruited.

At first, it was envisioned to control a whole suite of household machines. It turns out though that although such appliances have been on the market for years, there is still no standard protocol for automating them. Therefore, it was decided only to install EcoHome equipment in households with either electric heating or heat pump. This was also preferable in order to maximise the total volume of load-shifting capacity achieved during the EcoGrid EU demonstration. To put it in another way: the electric consumption of the heat pumps and electric heating devices are typically higher than that of other electric household appliances (e.g. washing machine, dishwasher etc.) – thus increasing the potential of flexible consumption. Furthermore, the customers are not expected to experience serious losses in heat comfort, if they are flexible in their consumption by shifting the use of heat pumps/electric heating in short periods in the course of a day.

Focus in the recruitment process changed, as the participants could not be randomly selected. It was also necessary to recruit participants who were not particularly interested in the EcoGrid EU project. In the direct-mail campaign targeted these customers, Oestkraft emphasized that they would offer individual service and support during the entire demonstration. The importance of allowing for personal contact with the ‘mainstream’ group of customers should not be underestimated.


Figure. interactive educational wall in Villa Smart


By the end of August 2013 1,900 residential EcoGrid EU households had enrolled for demonstration, which was the amount required for the demonstration. Later on, it turned out that many of the customers who had signed up were not qualified for participation, e.g. participants who already had heat pumps installed that were not compatible with the EcoHome equipment. Also, many of the customers with electric heating who had signed up to EcoGrid EU did not use electric heating as their primary heating source. Therefore, many of the participants with heat pumps and electric heating have been signed out of the project.

All in all, the Bornholm citizens have shown an enormous interest in participating in the EcoGrid EU project. About 180 customers are on waiting list – and Oestkraft is continuously receiving requests from customers with heat pumps/electric heating who want to take part of the demonstration. Today most people on Bornholm have heard about EcoGrid EU. Information about the project appears regularly in local newspapers and TV. The local electricity company Oestkraft and EcoGrid EU families contribute with interviews and stories from every-day use in the media.

Experience from similar demonstration projects shows, how important it is that the participants have their equipment installed relatively short time after signing up for the project. From the outset this was also the aim of Oestkraft and the project in general. The reality is that the recruitment for the demonstration project has taken place at a faster pace than the instalment of the equipment. In retrospect, it could have been wiser to start the recruitment at a later time and have taken the fact that not all components of the EcoGrid EU equipment are standardised products and that development takes time into account. On the other hand, it was impossible to know in advance whether enough participants would sign up for the project within the determined period of demonstration. The wait can feel long for the participants, which is why it is important that they are continuously being updated and informed about the project.

The primary information channel is e-mail and the website www.EcoGridBornholm.dk. Oestkraft also invites all participants (except for the statistical control group) to training sessions. The education of participants takes place in the demonstration house Villa Smart and communication and technical advisors from Oestkraft will give individual advice to the participants regarding their particular role in the project and the new equipment.

The training will be organised so participants in the different participant/equipment groups have training together. The training is planned to take 1-2 hours per session. The training session will be split in different topics depending on what is relevant for the type of group receiving the training. However, all participants will have a general introduction to EcoGrid EU. They will also be informed about the general energy transition happening in Denmark and the challenge this presents to our energy systems and how they, as consumers, can play an active role in overcoming some of these challenges.

After the general introduction to EcoGrid EU, the participants are introduced to the customer feedback system ‘My EcoGrid’. At ‘My EcoGrid’, the participants can find information about current prices and prognosis for the coming hours. They can also find data from the meter installed in their homes and compare price, consumption and cost over time. Once every month, the participant can find a report informing them about their performance for the past month, where the EcoGrid EU cost is compared to the cost of a non-Smart Grid product.

The purpose of the training session is to give the participants an understanding of Smart Grid in general and EcoGrid EU in particular. The concept of the real-time market is a complex topic to communicate, especially for the average power conconsumer. Until now, the normal consumer has not paid special interest to the timing of their electricity consumption, as time-of-use had no influence on the size of their bill. In Eco-Grid EU, the participants will have a radically different setup, as they not only get a lot of information about their consumption, but they must make up their minds about whether they are willing to compromise their normal comfort level in the prospects of saving money. Another challenge is to explain to the participants that they certainly cannot expect reductions in their electricity bill, if any at all. Therefore, it is important to tell the participants about the future benefits of EcoGrid EU and Smart Grid not only from an individual point of view, but also from the perspective of the society.

Some of the persons closest to the EcoGrid EU customers/participants are the seven electricians from Oestkraft installing the EcoHome equipment in households on Bornholm. It typically takes from one to three hours to install the EcoHome solutions and make it fit the consumers’ wishes; the time spent depends on how many questions the consumer has. It is the electricians that together with the consumers define the comfort preferences and priorities, eg minimum temperatures in the house and flexibility in usage of electricity. The industry partners provide continuous support via telephone and email to ensure that the electricians become experts in the EcoHome equipment.

Figure. price speedometer from ‘My EcoGrid’


Project Outcomes

The results of the overall project impact will be evaluated against Key Performance indicators (KPls) of removable peak load reduction from 1,900 residential households and the peak load reduction of the 100 industry participants on Bornholm. The potential of demand response in Denmark has been estimated to 1290 MW in Denmark. Scaled-up to national levelthe impact of the field test of Bornholm would be considerable. ln total there are approx. 2,5 million households/residential electricity customers in Denmark. The potential of involving 1O % of households alone (in Denmark and ‘world wide’) could contribute significantly to the increasing need of more and more costly power balancing capacity. It was decided early in the project that the communication with the public (and recruitment of test participants) should focus on the social values and environmental aspect, rather than individual financial benefits of participating in the EcoGrid field-test. However, it is guaranteed that the participants will never pay more for electricity compared to what they pay according to their normal contract.

One of the strength of the EcoGrid project is that ICT and software solutions supporting the real-time market do not start from scratch. The ICT architecture is based on existing software solutions available today or have been tested in other field test situations. Also the project use different smart home solutions and ICT control systems. This means that the systems are vendor independent, allowing for competition and freedom of choice on the hardware and software component. The issue of replication and deployment is an ongoing task that runs in parallel with the field{est. Standardisation and security issues constitute a very important part of the project. The lessons learned is the importance of establishing a broad public understanding of the Smart Grid before a broad roll out of Smart Grid solutions, including a EcoGrid real{ime power market.

The EcoGrid project considers and implements tools for electricity consumer engagement and empowerment throughout the value chain: From raising awareness of the Smart Grid vision among the public to the demonstration of tools and a real-time power market concept that enables many residential customers to actively contribute to balancing a power system with a high share of renewable energy sources.

■ Next steps and open questions

In the first part of the EcoGrid EU project, the task was to prove the sustainability of the market concept in theory. Much effort has been put into the establisment of a common understanding and consensus of the fundamental principle of the EU real-time market concept. The concept has continuously been challenged by ongoing discussions among the project partners and through interesting dialogues with external stakeholders, including discussion and workshops with the EcoGrid EU reference group.

Will the EcoGrid EU market concept work ‘outside’ Bornholm? It will certainly not be possible to implement a singles tandard EcoGrid EU real-time market concept all over Europe without changes to the current regulation framework situation(s). An example of the current differences in market design is the choice of gate closure time, ie the moment from which the TSO does not allow action by market parties anymore and is resolving all remaining imbalances by himself. Another example is the imbalance settlement, ie imbalances are settled between the balance responsible parties and the TSOs using different pricing methods.

Nevertheless, in a deployment and replication scenario of the EcoGrid EU real-time market, it is important not only to focus on the barriers due to the current differences in market designs. The implementation of the real-time market mechanisms must also consider the harmonisation process of the electricity markets in Europe, eg a process of drafting framework guidelines and network codes aiming at providing harmonised rules for cross-border exchanges of electricity. Furthermore, some of the real-time market core elements are likely to be more easily integrated into some systems than in other.

Currently one of the open questions is whether or not the EcoGrid EU market concept can be replicated without replacing the existing markets or changing the fundamental principles of the current power balancing mechanism? Several parts of the EcoGrid EU concept are flexible, ie does not conflict with the current practises, e.g.:

  • The EcoGrid EU project implements one specific retailer contract model in the Bornholm demonstration, but the concept does not endorse or rely on a specific contract model.
  • Likewise, the EcoGrid EU project uses different smart home solutions and different ICT control technologies. This means that the systems are vendor independent, allowing for competition and freedom of choice on the hardware and software components.
  • The fundamental concept and the infrastructure allow a ‘real time’ market with lower time resolutions than five minutes. It is relevant in markets where, e.g. the smart meters with 15 minute or even hourly data readings have already been rolled out, although the dynamic response for balancing and congestion management will be reduced.

In the view of rolling out a smart grid solution that encompasses different vendors, standardisation on the communication and interfaces of the smart home devices need to be taken into account. Another important aspect is the security throughout the system and the use of existing standards for security as well as measures to put privacy in place. Based on the demonstration experiences, the industry partners in EcoGrid EU will provide a framework for standards in communication and device descriptions, so an interoperable system can be assembled.

The recruitment of industry/commercial buildings is still ongoing. The commercial customers that Oestkraft has visited have been positive towards EcoGrid EU, but technical challenges prevent many from participating. At present, automating solutions are considered for the operation of manure mixers, electric fork-lift chargers and cold storage. The ferry terminal in Rønne is a good candidate for upgrading the existing building automation system. The project is also considering the energy storage potential related to e.g. electric vehicles and mobile cell mast batteries.

An important task in the project is to define the role of the TSO versus the role of the balance responsible parties. So far two alternatives are discussed. In alternative 1, the TSO is responsible for organising the Eco-Grid EU market, in parallel with (or potentially replacing) existing balancing markets. In this case, the flexibility of EcoGrid EU costumers is directly offered to the TSO via the retailer and the balance responsible parties, allowing for system-level optimal dispatch. The TSO issues a fixed price for imbalances prior to each market time unit, which means that the TSO carries the whole risk of setting the price at a value that will balance the system. In contrast, the commercial stakeholders, eg BRPs and retailers, can choose their own risk level by responding to the prices or not. In alternative 2, the real-time pricing concept is used by balance responsible parties, retailers, or VPP operators to control a portfolio of customers, whilst still bidding into the present balancing market. This allows for implementation without altering or adding to the system-level markets. The caveat is that one real-time price signal would be generated per BRP/retailer/VPP, potentially leading to sub-optimal dispatch from a system-level perspective.

The risk of price setting is shifted from the TSO to the commercial stakeholders. In this scenario, the TSO operates the normal balancing market with firm bids, whereas the commercial stakeholders need to create the real-time price signal and thus carry the risk. The TSO may provide information about e.g. activated volumes and prices in the balancing market to reduce the risk, but at the end of the day, the risk stays with the commercial stakeholders.

The risk of chosing alternative 2 is that the EcoGrid EU flexibility is used to reduce the imbalances of the individual BRP, rather than reduce the system imbalance, because the system imbalance can be in the opposite direction than the BRP imbalance. This may lead to sub-optimal dispatch from a socio-economic perspective. On the other hand, this solution can be implemented without altering the present markets at all, thus providing a possible fast-track for utilising small-sale demand-side flexibility.

The experience from the EcoGrid EU recruitment process shows that communication and involvement of the participants are key elements to project success. It has proven successful so far to keep the participants interested and signed into the project. Now comes the even greater task of keeping them involved. Based on relevant theory on consumer behaviour and experiences, an ongoing task is to plan and initiate activities for the involvement of the participants during the demonstration phase. The project experience is that the great support of the Eco-Grid EU project from the public on Bornholm has been an important precondition for the recruitment to the EcoGrid EU demonstration and willingness to test the real-time market concept.

Therefore, perspectives for a wider implementation of Eco-Grid EU depend on the degree of ‘Smart Grid readiness’ among the electricity consumers. The support of the project from the public on Bornholm is probably due to the fact thatthe population already was aware of many of the challenges associated with wind power and that the goal of converting to a CO2-neutral electricity generation is deeply entrenched among the people on Bornholm and the Danes in general. In other words, it will be easier to realise the EcoGrid EU project in areas where the environmental awareness is already high, and the challenges of handling more renewable energy and wind power are largest – and thereby also the wish for effective solutions for how to meet the challenges. One of the largest tasks, preceding the EcoGrid EU demonstration (and later: in a deployment perspective), has therefore, primarily been to establish a broad understanding of the Smart Grid vision behind EcoGrid EU and of how activating small-scale electricity consumption /electricity production via a real-time market can make a difference. The communication with the electricity consumers has furthermore appealed more to good citizenship rather than narrow financial gains.

It is important to clarify that the EcoGrid EU market concept only represents one possible suggestion for a cost-effective activation of flexible consumption at household customers and/or smaller production units. The project’s most important contribution is to demonstrate (or make plausible) that the EcoGrid EU concept – under the right conditions and with a reasonable effort – could be made to work in a long-term time perspective and to identify the necessary and sufficient preconditions, e.g.:

  • The real-time market concept must be accepted/understood by regulators and existing market players.
  • The real-time market concept must prove its economic value for the society and for stakeholders, eg the ‘retailer-balance responsible parties’ must be convinced about the added value for him and his customer (good business case).
  • The real-time market concept must prove its ability to provide reliable and efficient balancing services to the TSO without jeopardizing the grid security (at system level and at distribution operator level)

The issue of replication and deployment of the EcoGrid EU real-time market is an ongoing project task that runs in parallel with the field test. This is a key dilemma in relation to the replication of the Eco-Grid EU concept: It is hard to believe that radical changes can happen overnight in order to achieve a ‘perfect EcoGrid EU real-time market’. On the other hand, a gradual introduction of the EcoGrid EU concept parallel to existing market – without dealing with this challenge – could be undermining the true effect of the real-time market.


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