Smart Grid – Position Paper University of Denmark
Scientists published a report explaining the need to create a market for electricity services to draw new technologies such as micro CHP into wider use and accelerate the cost reduction needed for general consumer uptake.
As the European electricity mix moves towards a higher share of renewables, the generated energy increasingly does not correspond to patterns of consumption. According to the researchers, this creates a need for technologies such as fuel cell micro CHP (FC micro-CHP), which produces both heat and electricity simultaneously and can help compensate for the induced electricity fluctuations.
From a technical point of view, FC-based micro-CHP is well equipped for smart grid integration.
- Systems are typically equipped with the possibility of being remotely operated and controlled
- Further FC-based micro-CHP systems can adjust to external heat and power demands at seconds notice when at operation temperature
- Other advantages of the technology include that the generation is inherently distributed eschewing transmission losses, that generated power can be sold back to the grid and low to zero emission of CO2 and NOx
- Fast response time and aggregation capabilities make FC-based micro-CHPs well suited for smart grid controlled distributed generation which can limit transmission losses in the grid
For FC-micro-CHP to positively contribute to grid stability in the context of the emerging smart grid model, the viability of aggregation of multiple units into a virtual power plant needs to be considered.
At a capacity of 1 kW per system, an estimated minimum of 1000 units in a virtual power plant is required (1 MW).
The rewards for the aggregator and installation owners will need to outweigh the administrative and coordination costs required for such a complex operation in order for the virtual power plant model to gain ground.
How to boost micro CHP
FC micro-CHP is a dispatchable technology, which can provide services to the grid in a flexible way, especially when coupled with heat or electricity storage and controls. Yet in certain situations, when the technology is installed in regions where heat is not needed for long period of time as well as in non-residential use where the unit is not in operation over the weekend, the potential of the technology to support the grid is reduced.
It is suggested that utility companies should be able to control the systems.
Here, the utility companies would act as operators and aggregators of the micro-CHP systems.
Baseline operation of the systems should be a continuous production of a fixed amount of electricity.
This should be supplemented with generation profile adjustments based on household and external needs.
A generation profile based on the household’s average needs could be the basis of such operation.
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