Flexibility options for higher integration of renewable energy- the role of residential demand side management

by Ioana Bejan, Romania (in Denmark), ELP 2015
Written on July 21, 2015.

Renewable energy sources continue to expand their shares globally. Yet 80% of total energy consumption still comes from fossil fuel combustion (IEA, 2015). Advances in technology make the road to a low carbon economy shorter, but many challenges need to be addressed in order to make this transition fast and safe.

To maintain power grid stability, supply has to be able to meet demand at any time. With the integration of higher shares of intermittent renewable energy sources, supply becomes less reliable and thus poses significant challenges to grid operators. The figure below shows the frequency distribution of hourly ramps in wind and solar power generation in Germany as a share of installed capacity. It is easy to understand that higher installed capacity of intermittent renewable energy sources, especially solar, leads to more frequent high ramp events.

Figure 1: Frequency distribution of hourly ramps of wind and solar power generation in Germany

Image iconioana1_2.png Fig 1.1 PV

Image iconioana2_2.png Fig 1.2 Wind








Source: M. Huber, D. Dimkova and T. Hamacher, 2014

The traditional way to ensure grid stability in such events was to hold conventional plants on stand-by (such as OCGT plants) or spinning reserves. However, there are cheaper and more “environmentally friendly” solutions that provide flexibility. One of them is making demand more flexible.

For DSM program design to be effective, understanding consumer behavior is critical. Especially for price-based programs such as real time pricing for residential consumers, pilot projects implemented by power utilities help understand consumer response and identify the most responsive segments of the population.

I believe that every country that recognizes the threats of climate change and is serious about decarbonizing their electricity systems should provide targeted incentives for demand side management. Power utilities should be encouraged to engage in pricing experiments and induce wider adoption of smart meters among consumers.


IEAA, http://www.iea.org/topics/climatechange/
Matthias Huber, Desislava Dimkova, Thomas Hamacher, Integration of wind and solar power in Europe: Assessment of flexibility requirements, Energy, Volume 69, 1 May 2014, Pages 236-246, ISSN 0360-5442, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.energy.2014.02.109.