X Flex

Albena AD and ESO EAD performing tests in the Bulgarian pilot

During the past few months, X-FLEX partners Albena AD and ESO EAD have been busy performing the manual frequency restoration reserve (mFRR) tests and experiments which are to be demonstrated as part of the X-FLEX Bulgarian pilot.

The COVID-19 pandemic situation in the country of Bulgaria is presenting many challenges, however, it did not stop the X-FLEX team from successfully completed these necessary tests. Their results will be used to not only streamline the essence of the Bulgarian pilot demonstration but also to better shape the focus of the X-FLEX tools under development.

What do these tests consist of?

In the first part of the test, Albena used the existing infrastructure of legacy converted smart boiler systems in 6 of its hotels. Each boiler system is located on-premise near or in the basement area of each hotel and consists of anywhere between 5 to 12 individual boilers connected in series. The boiler systems are actively used during the summer season to provide hot water to guests. These boiler systems are also being monitored and controlled remotely as part of the Albena SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition system). The Albena team used these boilers to virtually create a unified service to ESO for providing mFRR in an upward and downward direction. Such service is at the core of the Bulgarian pilot demonstration and is believed to greatly improve the stability and reliability of the energy grid by predominantly using existing infrastructure with minimal additional investments.

ESO team monitored the cross-border exchange schedule for deviations greater than the threshold of 20MW (accepted criterion for the tests). During such events, ESO operators notified Albena operators to perform upward or downward mFRR provision. In result, Albena operators turned off or activated all boiler systems respectively.

eng. Nikolay Chavdarov and Dr. eng. Stefan Sulakov from ESO EAD during the tests

Considering the fact that the current capability of Albena is to provide power regulation of about 600kW +/-300kW during the regular summer season, the efforts can be deemed insignificant in terms of the overall impact on the grid parameters. However, the preliminary test results showed great potential for making an actual impact with a greater fleet of remotely controlled boiler systems.

As part of X-FLEX, Albena has included plans to fulfill this capability by expanding the conversion of all its legacy electric boiler systems into remotely controlled units, which are expected to jointly provide around 1MW +/-500kW power regulation, while at the same time such service will not hinder guests’ access to hot water. Albena and ESO teams are very excited and are looking forward to realising this approach to grid stability and reliability while at the same time utilising modern automatization through the X-FLEX tools being developed.

eng. Svilen Piralkov from Albena during the tests

In the second part, both partners performed a very similar test to the first part, however, this second test utilized instead of the existing on-site 200kWh battery at Albena AD, which can provide peak charging or discharging power of up to 120kW.

ESO team again monitored the cross-border exchange schedule for deviations greater than the threshold of 20MW. During such events, ESO operators again notified Albena operators to perform mFRR upward or downward provision. Albena operators used the remotely controlled battery capabilities to either charge or discharge the unit respectively. While the direct impact of the results can be deemed insignificant, the potential was once again shown to be enormous should Albena have a greater fleet of remotely controlled battery units.

These tests showed great insights to a very important goal which both Albena and ESO have set out to achieve as part of X-FLEX. Creating the ability for prosumers to provide mFRR services through the open energy market, is believed by both partners to increase efficiency, stability, reduce cost and utilize otherwise predominantly existing infrastructure in modern ways to support the grid operation.

It is an important step forward which would further increase the contribution of distributed renewable energy sources for a cleaner and more unified energy network. The performed preliminary test results eliminated some initially hazy parts of the project realization, while at the same time defined a clear path to the solution demonstrations with the help of X-FLEX tools.

Stay tuned for more exciting news as Albena AD and ESO EAD continue the X-FLEX journey. The next step, which both partners have set out to achieve is to perform a similar mFRR provision test but with a 1MW Biogas power plant. Albena AD is involving its subsidiary Perpetuum mobile BG AD, which owns the Biogas plant, and we expect this test to happen in the spring of 2021.

Detailed test results and further demonstration of X-FLEX project will be published in forthcoming issues of the magazine “Energetics – Electricity close-up” (http://www.eso.bg/?did=314).

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