Millions Of Small Consumer Connected To The Electricity Grid: TERNA Creates The Energy Of Things

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Photovoltaic systems with batteries, e-cars, domestic water heaters and industrial devices will provide services contributing to balancing of the electricity system; joint venture signed with TenneT and SwissGrid for launch of Equigy, an innovative digital platform supporting the energy transition

Millions of small consumers will be increasingly involved in the management of the electricity system, making active contributions to balancing and efficiency of the national grid. Domestic and industrial electrical devices will be star players in this Energy of Things, including residential heating and cooling climate control systems, photovoltaic systems with batteries, as well as e-cars, interconnected and capable of regulating energy exchanged with the grid through an innovative digital platform providing services that support the grid managed by Terna and, in turn, the energy transition.

All of this will be made possible by Equigy, a joint venture established by Terna together with two other European grid operators (the German/Dutch TenneT and SwissGrid), offering innovative and intelligent support for participation of multiple devices of varying size located in various areas in order to handle energy demands on the grid based on requirements. This will benefit the flexibility, security, sustainability and economics of the system, but will also help the owners of the devices through revenues deriving from the supply of grid services. As an example, the value of this service could be equivalent to the cost of recharging an electric vehicle, making sustainable mobility even more attractive.

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Equigy’s goal, following an initial pilot phase, is to create an even wider network of users at an international level, generating a blockchain platform that, with a focus on scalability and standardisation of processes by the major European grid operators, involves all new distributed resources through the other stakeholders of the chain such as aggregators, consumers and manufacturers, enabling them to participate in the electricity market and provide services. Electric vehicles, production plants, residential and industrial mini-power plants, electric boilers, and photovoltaic systems with storage will contribute to the security of the electricity system, which in coming years will become increasingly structured and complex, due to increasing growth and spread of renewables.

Technology and software will be developed by the grid operators participating in the initiative, while guaranteeing they play a hands-off and neutral role with respect to market logics, with technical support from all stakeholders. Terna intends to involve the following parties in development of the platform right from the initial phases: aggregators, other grid operators and technology providers, with the aim of identifying efficient, shared solutions. In any case, the system is not exclusive and aggregators will be able to decide whether or not to make use of the services offered by the platform.

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For grid operators, all of these distributed devices together will contribute to significantly increasing the portfolio of resources that can offer regulation services. In 2030, millions of these resources will be connected to the grid, including electric cars and heat pumps. Together they will be capable of providing total power in excess of 5 GW in certain periods of the year, comparable to the entire current reserve requirement of the electricity system.

This initiative confirms and strengthens Terna’s central role as a director of the energy transition and facilitator of the new Italian energy system, the main entity able to assist the country in achieving national and European NECP zero emission goals for 2050. Together with ARERA, Terna began promoting a series of pilot projects in 2017 to include distributed resources in the market for services needed to guarantee the security of the entire electricity system. These included the UVAM (virtually aggregated mixed units) pilot project to implement capacity market, production and storage units in the services market, in the same aggregates.

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In line with the new 2021-2025 Business Plan, these new technologies and digitalisation will be of ever greater import for Terna, taking on an increasingly centralised role, given that these elements are now essential for implementing the energy transition, to the benefit of the entire system. More specifically, Terna will dedicate around € 900 million to digitalisation and innovation, out of the 8.9 billion in the Plan as a whole.

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