Managing future
grids with the new
VPP Concept

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edgeFLEX – Providing flexibility to the grid by enabling VPPs to offer both fast and slow dynamics control services

Our European research and innovation project edgeFLEX aims at further develop the concept of Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) to manage a wider range of generation and storage assets in a new way. By offering a set of fast and dynamic service-to-grid operations, the emergence of a new market for ancillary services will be enabled. The ten project partners propose a new architecture of VPPs with communications, supported by 5G, corresponding to multiple layers of dynamics, paving the way for a fully renewable energy system. With the expansion of the VPP concept to the idea of local energy communities, technical solutions are linked to societal expectations.

edgeFLEX facts & figures

  • 3-year project from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2023
  • € 4 999 747,50 overall budget of it € 4 999 747,50 EU contribution
  • 10 project partners from 6 European countries
  • 3 field trials and 1 laboratory simulation

Towards a new era of energy flexibility

With the increased share of renewable energy in the energy mix, causing the energy market to change, now is the time to revise the VPP concept. VPPs need to support not only the promotion of intermittent renewables (RES) but also the integration of all Distributed Energy Resources (DER) into the full scope of grid operations. Such a leap raises challenges: optimal combination of DER and RES in a new generation of VPPs is needed to jointly provide grid supportive flexibility with slow reaction time known from day-head and intra-day markets, as well as real-time reaction to provide fast frequency and inertial response and dynamic-phasor driven voltage control ancillary services. In a nutshell, in a DER-based power electronics-driven network VPPs need to play all the roles that synchronous machines play in a traditional system.

Flexibility can be provided by going beyond electrochemical storage and exploring opportunities offered by Power2X or inverters. Demand Side Management or low-cost solutions such as Power-to-Heat could be deployed in a neighbourhood expanding the concept of VPPs to the concept of a Local Energy Communities (LECs). edgeFLEX links technical solutions to societal expectations. Short reaction times can be addressed by 5G-powered edge clouds linking dispersed devices in near real-time. In this respect, a new concept of VPPs, with communications corresponding to multiple layers of dynamics, becomes possible. edgeFLEX proposes a new architecture for VPPs deploying such a multi-layer solution, paving the way for a fully renewable energy system. VPPs are brought to a new level, enabling them to interact on markets offering various ancillary services to system operators. edgeFLEX develops this next generation VPP concept and demonstrates it in the context of three field trials and accompanying laboratory tests. The project explores innovative optimisations, financial tools and business scenarios for VPPs and assesses the economic and societal impact. The consortium actively works on removing barriers by contributing to standards and European level regulation.

edgeFLEX within Horizon 2020

edgeFLEX is funded by the European Commission´s Horizon 2020 framework programme for research and innovation. Horizon 2020 aims at fostering competitiveness, growth, and increasing benefits for the European Union’s economy and citizens. It supports research and development activities resulting in new knowledge, new products and services, and also in non-technological and social innovation. Under the funding scheme Research and Innovation action (RIA) edgeFLEX addresses the topic "Development of solutions based on renewable sources that provide flexibility to the energy system” within the programme " Low-cost, low-carbon energy supply”.