2017-01-25 ¦ Visit in Biel-Benken, Switzerland

The ReFlex project team visited the Powergrid demonstration site visits in Biel-Benken, Switzerland. The event was hosted by EBM, the local distribution system operator running the trial of GridSense, a fully decentralized residential management system. During the two days visits the ReFlex could learn about the control algorithm developed by the Swiss University of Applied Science and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) in cooperation with Alpiq, a leading Swiss electricity and energy services provider.

The Powergrid trial is a technological prohect. The aim is to validate an industrial prototype in a real environment. The GridSense technology is installed locally in 4 residential houses. It optimises the use of all suitably equipped power consumers, such as electric boilers, heat pumps, domestic batteries and charging stations for electric vehicles as well as decentralised power generators such as photovoltaic systems. At the heart of the intelligent technology are several algorithms, which continually measure parameters such as grid load, power consumption and generation and incorporate weather forecasts and electricity tariffs into their calculations. Thanks to artificial intelligence, the algorithms also learn how the different power consumers behave. The technology has an additional advantage in that it is autonomous and requires no communication link to the energy supply company and no input from the house owners. Therefore, the social aspects of this project are not very relevant. In contrary, the business aspects are very important. And will increase of importance after the validation in the Biel-Benken Powergrid trial, with the scale up of the industrial solution and the progressive launch on the market.

Interesting inputs for the Community of Practice were gathered during the visits. In particular, the “lessons learned” from this trial test and previous one, the importance of building up the relationship between project partners and participants, the regulatory challenges on introducing innovative control algorithms in the existing distribution grid. The precious insights will be brought to first Community of Practice in Wüestenrot, Germany. 

We would like to thank EBM, in particular Heinz Bodmer, for the perfect organization and support of this event.