Austrian Power Grid (APG) Joins European Crowd Balancing Platform EQUIGY
The digital “crowd balancing platform” EQUIGY helps to manage the energy transition and makes it easier for new and small players to participate in markets for grid balancing and the redispatch portfolio. On February 1, APG joined the crowd balancing platform EQUIGY as its fifth member, next to the transmission grid operators Swissgrid (CH), TenneT (in both Germany and the Netherlands) and Terna (IT). The aim of the joint venture is to unlock small-scale resources as system service providers and thus improve grid balancing in view of the increasing volatile production of electricity from renewables. APG’s focus is particularly on expanding and increasing the efficiency of the balancing energy markets and redispatch portfolio.

Digital platform facilitates cost-efficient energy transition

Renewables cover the energy consumption in parts of Europe to an ever-increasing extent. Also in Austria the share of weather-dependent wind and sun energy in electricity generation is growing continuously. At the same time, the energy demand increases due to new consumers such as electric cars, heat pumps, electricity-based production processes in commerce and industry, or storage batteries. APG’s CFO Thomas Karall analyzes the current situation: “In light of the transformation of the energy system, it is increasingly challenging for TSOs like APG to maintain a stable balance in the delicate interaction between energy supply and demand. If we want to be successful in our efforts also in the future, it will be essential to facilitate a transparent access to the energy system for all customers – households, as well as commerce and industry. That way they become system service providers and can contribute to balancing the energy system, thus ensuring security of supply. For this we urgently need new tools and measures.” Karall is convinced that: “APG’s joining of EQUIGY is a logical and necessary step: in this joint venture we will develop innovative, digital solutions and create standards in close cooperation with our TSO partners to manage the energy transition even better and more cost-efficient on a national and international level. This is the only way to guarantee the high-quality power supply that our customers in Austria are used to also in the future.”

Improved efficiency and democratization on the balance energy market

EQUIGY aims at making the small, decentralized production and storage capacities of new players available for the grid balancing process in an aggregated form both on a national and European level. The platform thus provides a substantial contribution to maintaining grid stability and increases the efficiency in balancing the energy system. Karall about APG‘s first concrete steps: “In a first pilot project we will expand the present market for aFRR by integrating flexible resources via EQUIGY.” As TSOs work together very closely in this joint venture, the market for flexible electricity resources becomes bigger. The critical events on January 8, 2021 in the synchronous grid of Continental Europe have demonstrated once more how indispensable the intensive and well-coordinated international cooperation is for the security of supply. Also in day-to-day business the availability of sufficient flexibility in the transmission grid is a key success factor.

Integration of redispatch measures

APG’s participation in EQUIGY increases the security of supply in Austria: “Currently APG has to balance threatening congestions of the grid almost daily with emergency redispatch measures. In 2020 alone, the costs for this short-term increase or reduction of production output totaled approximately € 134 million,” explains Karall and gives an outlook on future activities: “The integration of flexible units for redispatch measures via EQUIGY is therefore another project: the platform enables additional players to expand the redispatch portfolio so that the power supply system as a whole becomes more flexible and stable.” In implementing this future-oriented project APG cooperates closely with the domestic distribution system operators and other market participants.

APG benefits from a well-established system

For quite a while APG has already been working on an operational system to integrate small-scale customers in various markets. Together with distribution system operators Austria’s TSO has launched a flexibility platform in 2019. By joining EQUIGY APG has now access to an already well-established instrument and can benefit from the transfer of knowledge among the TSOs. The blockchain-based platform is open to both operators and aggregators and thus also applicable to traditional information technologies.