European Horizon project ENFLATE: Digitalisation for the energy transition

    In the Paris Agreement on Climate change of 2015, the signatory states are committed to climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest. The European Horizon project ENFLATE is making an important contribution to this overall goal with a dedicated platform for flexibility trading. The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, St.Gallisch-Appenzellische Kraftwerke AG, CKW AG and the European Power Exchange EPEX SPOT are involved.

    There were times when it was not possible to turn on the washing machine over midday because housewives then needed electricity to cook lunch for their husbands. Role models, daily routines and energy sources may have changed - what still exists are peak loads in the power grid. With renewable energies that only generate electricity when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, the situation is even more tense - especially because the demand for electricity is also simultaneously increasing. The European Horizon project ENFLATE aims to manage these peaks with digital consumer-centered trading platforms on which participants can offer their flexibility in power consumption in exchange for money. From Switzerland, CKW AG and St.Gallisch-Appenzellische Kraftwerke AG (SAK) are participating with their own sub-project under the leadership of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in cooperation with EPEX SPOT.

    The expansion of decentralized renewable energy sources is changing the flow of electricity. However, the grid coping with this is still the same and usually not designed for this. That is when flexibility can be used, especially during peak-load periods. Flexibility describes the ability to ramp up or down electricity consumption depending on the situation on the grid. One of the tools used in the Swiss demonstrator of the ENFLATE project is a trading platformed specifically designed to make this possible: "Anyone who knows that they don't need to charge their e-car at a certain time should be able to sell this flexibility on the ENFLATE platform," explains Christoph Imboden, lecturer at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. Electricity providers then have the option of interrupting charging and making the electricity available to someone else. "We want to know whether this can work." That's why the offer is to be set up on a trial basis in a sample neighbourhood in eastern Switzerland. For Jürg Solenthaler, Head of the Grid Division SAK, this approach holds great potential: "The fundamental restructuring of the Swiss-wide energy system in the coming decades will have an impact on the individual distribution grids. The grid operators must be prepared for this - which is why we are also a member of this European research project. With this particular sub-project, we are looking forward to investigating the effects of flexibility markets on grid utilisation in practice". "The market is the economically most efficient way to bring together supply and demand. The neutral reference price determined transparently by the Power Exchange creates the right incentives to make optimal use of flexibilities in the power system," explains Philippe Vassilopoulos, Director of Product Development at the European Power Exchange EPEX SPOT.

    The project does not aim to reinvent the wheel, but to build on existing platforms. The 48-month European project will feature demonstrators in different countries. ENFLATE brings together a consortium of 30 organisations: transmission and distribution system operators, market operators, regulators, service providers, manufacturers, academia and other stakeholders. The members aim to promote clean energy in Europe, while reducing the cost of the transition and increasing its economic benefits. Ultimately, ENFLATE shall deliver the means for effective control of power trading at regional, national, and international interconnection points, better communication among distributed energy sources, increased consumer/prosumer participation in the energy trading process, and sustainable development of new multi-sectoral business models harnessing the participation of consumers/prosumers in cost-effective power trading.

    EU project with Swiss participation

    Since negotiations with the European Union on a framework agreement were broken off, Switzerland is no longer part of the €100 billion European research framework programme "Horizon Europe". Swiss universities therefore no longer receive EU funds and can no longer participate in large EU research projects on an equal footing, but only as associated partners. The State secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI finances these participations directly as a substitute measure. ENFLATE is funded by the European Commission within the framework of its research and innovation programme Horizon Europe with more than € 7.5 million and is to be implemented with a total budget of more than € 14 million.


    Maria Schubotz, Head of External Communications
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