Retail suppliers                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Electricity retailers are being forced to innovate to keep up with both competition (liberalised markets for end-use of energy and for flexibility) and with technological progress (national rollout of smart meters, IoT enabled appliances and energy systems, etc.). Sim4Blocks will explore energy tariffs that retailers can offer to households to harness the greatest potential for contributing to grid stability. It will also look at how retailers can cluster their users, offering products and harnessing potential at the city-block and/or district level.

Distribution system operators                                                                                                                                                                                                    Distribution system operators (DSOs) must plan and manage their low- and mid-level voltage grids to accommodate the maximum demanded power in the network – irrespective of how often this “peak-power” occurs. Demand response is one way to mitigate/reduce the peak power in a distribution network, which can provide large savings in terms of infrastructure.                                           DSOs must also contend with geographically focused voltage congestion in their networks, especially due to decentralised solar power generation. DSOs need market frameworks that take advantage of these opportunities to replace potential very expensive infrastructure expansions (eg, transformers, more power lines, etc.) with regional demand response actions. In Germany’s case, this is partially addressed in the newly updated Energiewirtschaftsgesetz from October 2016 which allows for flexible energy users which operate in a “network-supporting-way” to be offered lower network fees – just one example among a range of European cases and possibilities for market rules.                                                                                                                                                                                                         DSOs should also be allowed to finance or offset the implementation of demand response actions in ways that are at least similar to those rules used for financing or offsetting infrastructure investments.

Transmission system operators                                                                                                                                                                                                  Transmission system operators (TSOs) ensure a stable system at the national (and through cooperation, international) level. This includes requiring those in the energy system to balance their planned supply and demand efficiently and operating the system in a way that allows that to happen. They also ensure that unavoidable short-term mismatches in demand and supply are compensated for. The latter is o en referred to as “ancillary services” for the grid. Many ancillary services systems take the form of liberalised markets, and although classically it has been the large power plants that have been the primary participants in these markets, demand-response-capable energy users have recently been encouraged to participate in ancillary services markets. This encouragement to participate has taken the form of (alongside price signals from the markets themselves) reduced barriers to entry (size and availability rules have been relaxed in Germany and other countries, as have rules for billing and balancing of accounts between affected retailers and DSOs). Sim4Blocks will explore which aspects of ancillary services can benefit the most from demand response, and what the potential is of demand response to contribute to the various types of ancillary services across Europe. Can blocks of buildings be coordinated in a way to increase the potential demand response contribution and is this compatible with current market structures?

Aggregators                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Aggregators’ business is to pay generators and users of electricity for their flexibility. Can aggregators operate at the level of a neighbourhood, or an individual building? O en these flexible loads (especially households with electric heating systems and/or battery storage combined with photovoltaics) are too small and require a larger degree of optimisation at local level than an aggregator can provide. The question then is how the flexible loads of these households and districts can be harnessed (and financially incentivised) by and for aggregators. Also, can aggregators move past business models relying on system level (read, national level) ancillary services markets and toward local, low-voltage grid-level services in support of DSOs and local regions?

Customers (big and small)                                                                                                                                                                                                           Can tariffs and the technical concepts be communicated effectively? Are price signals strong enough to incentivise participation? To what extent is automation necessary (e.g. automatic control of flexible heating systems) and what role does user behaviour (e.g. choice of time to use appliances) play a role? What are the cost-effective options for harnessing the demand response potential of customers while minimising regulatory impacts on citizens and homes?