We’re very pleased to announce that together with our Slovenian partner SONCE energija and a consortium of partner companies, we have been selected for an R&D project — supported by EU grants amounting to €4,659,682 ($5.5 million USD) for research into how blockchain technology tools with science approaches and a multi-value service design can be used to boost Demand Response (DR) through increased community level consumer engagement.
What exactly is DR and why do we want to boost it?
Demand response in its most traditional form turns energy users into “virtual power plants” by adjusting their energy consumption during specific times to relieve stress on the grid. Instead of turning on another energy source such as a power plant, we can use DR to turn off electricity demand, thus negating the need for additional supply. Through this mechanism, energy consumers contribute to the stability of the grid and are compensated for doing so, effectively being paid for NOT using electricity — typically for short amounts of time (anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours) — which helps to avoid the need to buy expensive peaking power from the wholesale market or the turning on of another expensive fossil fuel-fired power plant.
Historically, DR was an emergency resource designed to prevent blackouts, but it is now increasingly being used to correct short-term imbalances on the grid or in response to economic signals. For example, pairing demand response to compensate for wind or solar power when weather conditions change allows us to have a cleaner, cheaper, more flexible, more resilient grid. Similarly, energy consumers are increasingly using DR technologies to avoid using power when it costs them the most.
Horizon 2020 is the EU funding programme for research and innovation
Our project backer — Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme with nearly €100 billion in funding — available over 7 years (2014 to 2020). Horizon 2020 promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.
Seen as a means to drive economic growth and create jobs, Horizon 2020 has the political backing of Europe’s leaders and the Members of the European Parliament. They agreed that research is an investment in our future and so we should put it at the heart of the EU’s blueprint for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs.
Grant applications in this programme are extremely competitive with a less than 5% acceptance rate since Horizon 2020 strives to fund only the cream of excellent European researchers and projects. This means that of all applicants, SunContract and its partners were recognized as being superior in terms of technology than 95% of the applicants. We feel very humbled as a team and as partners to have been approved for direct funding by the EU — specifically through the Horizon 2020 program.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Horizon 2020 Programme for your great generosity and its evaluators for seeing the potential of our vision. By enabling projects like BRIGHT to couple research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is helping us achieve a better energy future founded on excellent science, industrial leadership and the tackling of societal challenges— through the removal of barriers to innovation and making it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.
Abstract of the Project — titled “BRIGHT”
The increasing electrification of heat and transport coupled with larger renewable energy sources’ deployment is disclosing new additional opportunities for demand response (DR). However, DR potential has been exploited so far to a very limited extent at end-consumer residential level, due to technologies’ immaturity, regulatory fuzziness and distorted business framework preventing end consumers from capturing an appropriate value.
To cope with the above challenges, this project will leverage on a participatory co-creation process to bring individual consumers to the center stage and deliver to them a multi layered, community-centred, cross-domain-adaptable, multi-timescale DR supporting framework — which combines social-science-driven user experience designed for user behavior motivations and monetary/non-monetary incentive design.
Digital Twins models for improved consumer predictability, multi-layered P2P /blockchain/smart contracts based semi decentralized VPPs for capturing intra-community interaction dynamics, value stacking flexibility management algorithms and other AI data driven energy and non-energy services at the interplay among energy (power, heat and gas) mobility health (comfort) smart home (AAL, personal safety).
The proposed approach and the underlying enablers will be deployed and validated in 4 demo sites across 4 EU countries where around 1000 mostly residential consumers will be engaged along a variety of different community configurations.
As we are still in the preliminary stages of the BRIGHT Horizon 2020 project, more details regarding this project are to be disclosed at a later date.