Improved Distributed Energy Systems Based on the End-User Consumption Profile: A Review on How Consumers Can Drive the Energy Transition

Improved Distributed Energy Systems Based on the End-User Consumption Profile: A Review on How Consumers Can Drive the Energy Transition

Daniel Adrian Perez-Moscote (Moscow Power Engineering Institute (National Research University), Russia) and Mikhail Georgievich Tyagunov (Moscow Power Engineering Institute (National Research University), Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3645-2.ch009
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Abstract

Nations are facing today the transition to cleaner, more reliable and affordable energy systems where power grids are becoming less centralized, more flexible and digitalized, and where not only power utilities, but also consumers are playing a significant role. Distributed Energy Systems (DES) constitute a key element in such transition, with decentralized renewable energy generation near the consumption points, energy storage, electric vehicles, and energy management systems, with the potential to ensure continuous supply and achieve higher efficiency, while reducing costs and adverse environmental impacts. This chapter presents a review of the recent advances in the design and development of DES, focusing on the effect of taking into consideration the consumption profile and behaviour of the end-users. The chapter also revises the limitations of DES and summarizes the future directions of DES development.
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Introduction

Access to electrical energy is essential to overcome many of the complexities that the world faces today, such as food production, water supply, industrialization, and better health and education systems, particularly in developing countries and remote regions. However, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA, 2018), about 1 billion people worldwide still lack access to modern electricity. Furthermore, electricity and heat generation accounts for around 40% of total global CO2 emissions, being thus the process that contributes most significantly to climate change (IEA, 2019).

To secure access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for everyone, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UNDP, 2015) proposes to increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix, duplicate the global rate of energy efficiency improvement and upgrade technology for energy supply in developing countries. For this, it is required a complete shift in the energy paradigm, the nowadays called ‘energy transition’: a transformation of the power sector from the conventional, centralized and unidirectional model, based on fossil fuels, to a new system mainly based on clean energy, decentralized and more dynamic where energy, information and money flow in multidirectional ways (IRENA, 2019a), as illustrated in Figure 1.

Distributed Energy Systems (DES) constitute a fundamental element to achieve such transformation (Tyagunov, 2017) and can be defined as power systems where energy assets, such as small-scale renewable energy generation, energy storage, electric vehicles (EV), demand response (DR) and energy efficiency management, are distributed throughout the array and energy is generated near the consumption points (Siemens, 2018).

Figure 1.

Shift from centralized energy systems to distributed ones [adapted] (Vezzoli, 2018)

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Through renewable energy generation and energy management, DES offer opportunities to ensure optimal use of energy recourses, to improve energy supply reliability, and to reduce carbon emissions. DES can also signify cost reductions for the development of the power sector, as a result of the possibility to add new installed capacity gradually, in smaller increments, depending on the location and the actual demand tendency, thus decreasing the risk of oversizing (Khokhlov et al., 2018).

Respectively, energy consumers are now playing a meaningful role in the energy transition. Active and informed energy users with the possibility to produce their own energy (prosumers), control their energy consumption and even sell energy back to the grid are transforming how DES are designed and managed. The objective of this chapter is to present a review of the recent advances in the design and development of DES, and how they can be improved by taking into consideration the end-user consumption pattern and behaviour and their influence on the electrical system. The chapter also revises the limitations of DES and summarizes the future directions of development of DES.

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Background

Historically, power systems have been developed similarly around the world. Large central power plants located near the energy resources, predominantly fossil fuels, and far from the cities, with electricity flowing in one direction from generation plants to consumers over long distance with the use of transmission and distribution lines. The larger the power plant, the more cost-effective and the structure concept remained the same for several decades.

The development of DES, where small-scale technologies are used to produce electricity closer to the energy consumers, started as a response to the 1970s oil crisis, with the use of innovative, affordable and efficient technologies for electricity generation such as combined-cycle power plants, subsequently changing the classical power grid model. Furthermore, global environmental concerns regarding climate change along with the global aim to ensure access for everyone to modern, affordable and reliable energy have driven the development of renewable energy technologies in recent decades and the world is currently undergoing a paradigm shift in the energy system: the energy transition to a low-carbon power system providing universal access.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Prosumer: A person or entity who both consumes and produces electricity.

Energy Transition: Global transformation of the energy sector from fossil-based systems of energy production and consumption to renewable energy sources and low-carbon technologies.

Blockchain: A system in which a digital record of transactions made in cryptocurrency (a digital currency such as bitcoin), are maintained across several computers that link the participants in a network.

Renewable energy:  Energy produced using resources that are naturally replenishing: such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, biomass, and geothermal heat.

Distributed Energy System (DES): Power system where electricity is generated near the consumption points and energy assets, such as small-scale renewable energy generation, energy storage, electric vehicles (EV) and consumption management tools, are distributed throughout the array.

Demand Side Management (DSM):  Actions that reduce or limit end-use energy consumption through the management of equipment or processes: usually during peak demand and/or in times of limited supply.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) trading: Direct purchase and sale of electricity between two or more parties connected to a power grid. Participants can usually decide with whom they trade energy.

Demand Flexibility (DF): Portion of electricity demand in a power system that can be reduced, increased or shifted within a specific duration by providing price signals or controlling energy loads.

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