One of the main themes of e-harbours is demand side flexibility : “Actions voluntarily taken by a consumer to adjust the amount or timing of his energy consumption.” Some installations can shift non-critical activities over time, other devices can store energy for later use. This demand side flexibility can be employed by grid operators and balancing responsible parties to maintain the equilibrium in the power grid.
Where do we find the massive amounts of flexibility needed to keep electricity grids stable when the input of intermittent renewables is rising? In the e-harbours project, we investigated several sources of flexibility, starting with large industrial consumers and producers of energy in our harbour areas.
In both the Antwerp and the Hamburg port area, companies were interviewed in order to investigate the potential and financial value of the flexibility of the electricity consumption related to their production process. Detailed case-studies in both cities showed a massive potential flexibility, that could be sold on energy markets.
The same goes for large-scale applications of electric vehicles (where the battery packs create a flexible potential), as studied in Amsterdam (electric boating), Zaanstad (a fleet of electric cars) and Malmö (Smart Homes equipped with electric vehicles). Here also, a large potential flexibility is found.
What are the business cases for flexibility? The e-harbours report “Strategies and Business Cases for Smart Energy Networks“ identifies six different ways to make flexibility profitable.
But, as our Point of Arrival document states, even profitable business cases for smart energy we identified have not yet been put into practice. There are three main issues why theory has not yet been translated into action:
No sense of urgency: In many businesses, current energy costs are low compared to the total cost of production. An energy share of 20% of total running costs can be considered as a threshold for action.
Limited business potentials: There are currently only few options to earn money by exploiting flexibility. The value of flexibility is still quite low and the key policy drivers are currently negative.
Internal issues: Scepticism against innovations can prevent a good concept from being implemented, even if technical solutions are there.
Other e-harbours documents: