By smartgrider In DEMAND SIDE MANAGEMENT Posted 2015-05-10


Project Ownership NICE GRID is a project managed by a consortium:
Project Coordinator: ERDF
Partners: Alstom, Saft, EDF SA, ARMINES, RTE, NetSeenergy, Socomec, Daikin, Watteco
Location Carros, France
Number of Carros customers2500 involved customers, all will be equipped by the smart meter Linky at the end of 2014
Local Energy Supply Mix for Carros1.9 MW PV :
• 330 kW from 110 PV systems of less than 3 kW
• 1.5 MW from 9 PV systems of more than 10 kW
Budget€ 30 million
Duration 4 years
Contact • Christophe Arnoult [ERDF] christophe.arnoult@erdf-grdf.fr
• Christophe Lebosse [ERDF] Christophe.lebosse@erdf-grdf.fr

Regional electricity system context / Key Figures




The NICE GRID project will optimize electricity generation, consumption and storage tied in Carros municipal low-voltage (LV) grid, while accommodating a large amount of intermittent photovoltaic electricity. This optimization will make it possible to test the “islanding” of a LV grid by operating it in total autonomy for a limited period of time. The smart electricity management and control provided will be used to reduce Carros’ overall electricity consumption if upstream grids become congested.

The NICE GRID project is carried out by a consortium that consists of the Project Coordinator, distribution grid operator ERDF, and nine partners representing power systems companies, electricity suppliers, generators, a university and a provider of innovative networking solutions. The stimulus for the NICE GRID smart solar district demonstration project was an invitation for expressions of interest issued by the French environmental and energy agency ADEME. It is funded by the French government’s “Investments For The Future” program and the FP7 EU program. The NICE GRID demonstration is expected to cost approximately 30 million euros. The objective of this four-year project is to study all aspects of future electricity grid design.

NICE GRID is also part of the EU FP7 project Grid4EU coordinated by ERDF and is therefore the French demonstration project (DEMO6) within the packages. The chosen site for the project is Carros, a small town in the Nice Cote d’Azur metropolitan area near the Var River within the Eco-Valley – French “Project of National Interest”. The NICE GRID project is implemented in the town itself and in its industrial zone.

Although the town’s location on the margin of France’s transmission grid – in the department of Alpes-Maritime – is a structural disadvantage for its electricity supply, it enjoys abundant sources of renewable energy, solar power in particular. These characteristics make Carros excellent site for this demonstration project.


Objectives & Benefits

The four objectives of NICE GRID are:

  • Optimize the operation of an electricity distribution grid accommodating a large amount of solar power and stored energy,
  • Study a small autonomous LV consumption “island” that can be isolated from the main grid for a limited period of time, drawing its power from its own solar
    power generation and a lithium ion battery,
  • Enable consumers to actively manage and balance their production and consumption,
  • Test the Smart Grid business model.


Project Design

To achieve these objectives ERDF and Alstom Grid have developed a “Network Energy Manager” that will optimize the balance between power consumption, solar generation and storage at the district level by:

  • Forecasting the next day’s consumption and solar power production,
  • Installing batteries in the homes of volunteer customers, in the distribution network and at primary substations,
  • Identify and locate in time and space network constraints that are likely to occur the next day
  • Soliciting aggregators that can act on the active energy passing through the LV network
  • Enabling participating customers to play an active role in their electricity consumption,
  • Testing innovative IT and communication technologies to remotely control some energy uses.

Below are the planning and the main milestones of the project:

Figure 1. Planning and main milestones of NICE GRID


This project relies on AMI infrastructure and utilization of Linky smart meters, which enable more accurate consumption forecasts and allow participating grid customers or external aggregators to control and monitor devices such as Hot Water Tanks, heating systems and air-conditioners without additional internet boxes or parallel communication infrastructure. The figure below describes the overall architecture of the project:


Four main use cases will be tested in NICE GRID:

Islanding: During approximately 4 hours, a MV/LV substation will be disconnected from the network. This type of operation will first be tested in prepared, anticipated and favorable situations. DER production and consumption will be forecasted and a battery prepared in order to achieve the system balance during islanding. Islanding must be transparent for the customer. In a second step, the islanding will be tested without preparation, recovering with a “black-start”. No Diesel generator will be used to supply the feeder, only solar panels and a 250 kW battery.

Reduction of power demand: The goal of this use case is to reduce the power demand in a network area. This type of operation can be used on DSO and/or a TSO request to prevent electrical constraints on the network, to help supply demand balance and to prevent customers from power outages. Different levers can be used to achieve this goal, such as flexibilities related to customer appliances or battery placed in customer premises as well as the network batteries. The aim is a 3.5 MW load reduction.

Management of maximized PV production on LV network regarding constraints and flexibility programs: A massive penetration of DER in the LV network may result in localized network (voltage, current) constraints. The targeted solution in this use case is to activate consumption and storage in predefined way near the constrained points, in order to prevent over-voltage and minimize PV inverter disconnections (to maximize PV production).

Encourage consumers to adopt smarter habits in accordance with the network state: During critical periods for the electric grid, the aim is to push consumers to try and change their electric consumption behavior by stopping, moderating or postponing some of their electrical device use. When the network state is operated under constraints, the consumer is informed about the ongoing incentive period. General suggestions and information will be sent to help them act before, during and after these periods: their consumption, PV production information (combined with weather data) and storage data will be available to improve the impact of their actions and ensure that efforts work in their favor. A key goal will be to promote their active participation, encouraging them to control their energy consumption and thus help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Consumers will play this active role within the energy system by:

  • Providing data on power use and consumption,
  • Storing energy in hot-water heaters and/or batteries using controllable smart devices,
  • Generating electricity from PV panels.

Even though the general concept of NICE GRID is based on forecasts of consumption and individual production set to Day-1, the project is also developing systems of re-forecasting constraints on an hourly basis on the event day and local intelligences responsible for correcting or adapting in real time flexibilities activation using local measurements.

Role of the Smart Meter Linky: The smart Linky meter is the basic building block of the NICE GRID project and plays a key role by being able to measure the consumer’s power consumption and generation. It can also send instructions for demand management. Hot water tanks will be controlled exclusively by Linky. Heating instructions (i.e. customer number and heating start time and duration) will be preset by the platform that EDF is developing.

The Linky System

The customer will play an active role in their home and even the neighborhood, due to their capacity to adapt their power generation (using their storage capacity) and/or consumption in accordance with network constraints. Another major focus of the NICE GRID project will have to ensure that  customers are well informed of their energy use before, during and after consumption, along with its economic and environmental consequences. These changes will encourage people to make their own energy choices and be an active part of their electricity system, whether they generate renewable energy, store energy or simply manage their own consumption.

The schema below describes the in home architecture that will be used in NICE GRID project.

In home NICE GRID System

Example of Demand Response activity within NICE GRID: In addition to controlling voltage when a large photovoltaic power is injected into a LV grid, the NICE GRID project aims also to develop methods for assessing the behavior of “prosumers”. As known the photovoltaic power is not always generated when the consumer needs it. The diagram below shows the difference that can be noticed between the photovoltaic power generation curve and the consumer’s power consumption.

To deal with this problem, the NICE GRID project strategy is to shift, as illustrated in the diagram below, a part of consumer’s consumption to the periods when we have a surplus photovoltaic power generated locally. For this purpose the generation and consumption forecast are key inputs to the Network Energy Manager tool (NEM).

The means that will enable shifting of the consumption are:

  • Residential batteries
  • Hot water tanks
  • Customer behavior (represented by the washing machine that is not monitored or controlled)


Current Status & Results

Customer Recruitment: The success of the NICE GRID project depends on residential consumer’s participation and motivation. In order to encourage them to participate to this trial, EDF has developed a strategy for recruiting customers based on easy and understandable offers and raise the curiosity of the Carros’ residents. With the same goal, the solar district residents have received an active consumer guidebook and three trial offers for the photovoltaic power management.

The recruitment campaign was launched in early May 2013 with ads put up in Carros. The objective is to arouse the curiosity of the city’s
residents and anchor the project in Carros. In addition to this, the solar district residents have received an active consumer guidebook and three trial offers
for the PV Management use case.


Given the characteristics of the PV districts selected, residential customers who live in isolated houses were targeted. These districts have neither industrial or service sector customers nor apartment buildings, and as such these customer groups were excluded from the target participants for the PV Management use case. These offers are presented in the Solar Guidebook that was distributed to all EDF customers in the seven PV districts in May 2013.

Technical components:


Concerning the primary substation, the inverter is provided by Alstom Grid. This type of installation is unique in France, so the partners decided to do all the tests on site when the system will be in place. All the studies and administrative permits are completed. The container with the battery and container with the inverter were delivered in Carros beginning of November 2013. All the tests will end mid-February and the system will be in operation end February.


For the community storage, the inverters will be provided by the partner Socomec. All the design of the solution and the tests between the inverter and the battery are completed. The tests of the container are held in EDF R&D Concept Grid. The studies concerning the particular case of the storage also providing the islanding function leads to a 2 blocks system: a container with the battery identical to the one located in the primary substation and an inverter located inside the secondary substation with a 50 meters DC link. The system will be up and running for the PV energy storage by July 2014.

Residential storage systems will be installed in the homes of customers who participate in the project and who have already installed PV modules. Each battery will be connected to solar panel while the PV equipment will be connected directly to the grid. These storage systems will be able to accommodate the surplus power generated locally by the residential solar panels and then inject this power back when it is needed (e.g. at night). These residential batteries will be controlled by a dedicated platform and an ADSL infrastructure which will be located at the battery site. This solution is being developed by EDF.

Load managing systems

The load managing zone is the entire city of Carros. The Demo defined two types of customers: those equipped with the Linky meter – mostly the electric heating household and PV zone, and those without advanced metering infrastructure. For the former, the info will be relayed by the Linky meter to automated systems. For the latter, a program is developed to issue a signal (SMS, mail, website) to ask customers to minimize their electricity consumption. The majority of tests were conducted throughout 2013 in EDF R&D to test all the system from the IT servers to the end user systems. Two types of devices will be used, one from Watteco and one from Edelia. Already 1400 smart meters are deployed, over a 2500 target will be achieved by the end of 2014..

Implementation and test of architecture and components of the information system needed to operate the areas: All the system will be operated from ERDF servers. So during 2013, one of the challenges was to install on ERDF servers all the software components coming from the different partners and to give secure access to these servers. The first test with a limited number of components was done in June and the test concerning the whole architecture in V1 was held in November 2013 to be ready to run in April 2013, beginning of the first load shedding experiments.

Some of these KPIs are common within the Grid4EU to other Demos using a common calculation methodology.


Information systems architecture

The system that is used is illustrated in the figure below.



Lessons Learned & Best Practices

  • Operation of battery storage on the distribution grid : Batteries are new technologies on the distribution grid: distribution grid is relying only on AC current, and technicians have to be used to DC current devices. Batteries have also to be monitored 24/24, and this can only be done by the DSO monitoring team, working 24/24. Operational teams and technicians have to be informed and taught some month before, especially regarding safety issues.
  • Challenge of the recruitment : Recruitment is done using public advertising, public meetings in city, open doors day in the show room, publication in the local newspapers. Financial counterparts are very important: gift cards, investment subsidy, tariff signals.
  • Communication :Communication and dissemination are challenging for such a technical project. NICE GRID built a dedicated show room in order to disseminate information about the project. It is located in the city of Carros and welcomes international scientists, companies, conferences and universities. Inside, each consortium partner has a dedicated space, most of the devices are exposed on a tactile wall and a large screen allows for use cases visualization.
  • Accurate use case definition in order to allocate clear tasks and actions to the different involved parties in the project :Use cases have to be defined at early stage accurately in order to facilitate the task allocation and to ease the identification and specification of the interfaces between the partners involved in the project.

Key Regulations, Legislation & Guidelines

French policy is highly influenced by European legal acts and, of course, French institutional initiatives are in line with the European guidelines. Therefore, France has put in place the liberalization and deregulation of the electricity market. This new organization has been set up gradually but today, French electricity market is mostly open, which is an important headway for the security of supply. Moreover, French authorities are acting in favor of energy efficiency improvement and renewable energies development.

Along with the future investment, the implication of regional and local authorities is evolving towards more sustainable energies.

Smart Grid today is benefiting from drivers at both European and French scale. It is an efficient way to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and network security. Smart Grid technologies are core European and French strategic instruments for which an important investment is provided. Nevertheless, many issues remain to be solved so that a Smart Grid can be massively deployed in the entire electricity network.

The French Energy Regulator (CRE) is supporting the project. The results will benefit the entire Smart Grid community.

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