The energy sector is the source of around 75% of greenhouse gas emissions today and holds the key to averting the worst effects of climate change, perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced. This calls for nothing less than a complete transformation of how we produce, transport and consume energy. In recent years, the largest machine humanity has even built, the interconnected electrical grid, has undergone many significant modifications due to the transition from the traditional centralized production units to a new decentralized production scheme based mainly on renewable energy sources (RES). Nevertheless, the integration of stochastic and intermittent RES challenges the stability and reliability of the overall system. Useful tools (e.g., RES forecasting machines, smart metering devices and stability diagnostic algorithms) have helped to improve system reliability, but they are not enough to ensure increased RES absorption. The underlying cause for this is the fact that these solutions have not prevented several unfortunate recent events of grid failures which have lead thousands of users being left without electricity, with potentially detrimental effects on people’s well-being and the economy. In parallel, energy poverty is a pertinent problem worldwide, with over 940 million people not having proper access to electricity. In both of these large problem families, microgrids have been identified as the most efficient solution because they combine decentralised RES-based production, energy storage systems (ESS) and they can operate either independently or interconnected with the main utility grid.
Integrating heterogeneous energy sources such as photovoltaic arrays (PV), wind turbines (WT), energy storage, electric vehicle (EV) chargers and controllable smart loads in one self-sustainable system introduces several challenges in terms of optimal planning, monitoring and control of all available assets, to achieve several different objectives simultaneously, e.g., minimization of operational cost, increase self-consumption, maximization of reliability etc. Despite the intense research interest developed in the last two decades towards microgrids, the commercialization of these research outcomes is very limited in Europe because usually they demand hardware customizations, or they are designed for very specific microgrid applications narrowing thus down their replicability and scalability.
From another perspective, there is hidden flexibility potential by aggregating several microgrids, distributed energy resources, battery storage systems, EV charging stations in one unified system that can optimize its economic operation while trading this flexibility in the relevant energy markets. This concept is embodied by the introduction of the “Aggregators”, who manage their portfolios of distributed assets by clustering them into Virtual Power Plants (VPPs). However, the operation of VPPs is still characterised by high complexity, new regulatory framework while their overall operation is not optimised holistically since the available commercial controllers focus on optimizing individual assets or large consumers. Furthermore, the exponential rise of electromobility is expected to present significant potential in managing optimally distributed charging points while providing services to the utility grid via smart charging (V1G) or even grid support operation (V2G). This potential has been proposed to be exploited by the formation of EV-based VPPs, about which no commercial monitoring and optimal control frameworks exist.
While there is an increasing number of microgrid monitoring and control solutions out in the market now, none of them incorporates solutions for both microgrid and VPP optimal and secure energy management that follows all latest open protocols, while at the same time integrating seamlessly renewable generation, energy storage, next-gen electromobility solutions, demand-response participation, direct and indirect load control and finally, interconnection of cross-energy-sector units, such as Combined Heat-Power.
Optimems enables residential and commercial customers along with Aggregators to optimize the operation of their distributed energy technologies, in a device-agnostic way, using state-of-the-art algorithms and through the incorporation of standardized protocols. The proven performance of the Optimems framework can achieve significant profits for its user via minimized operation costs, maximization of equipment life expectancy and participation in Demand-Response energy markets.
Furthermore, following our values, all Optimems-managed microgrids and VPPs are 100% decoupled from fossil fuels, making our business completely harmonized with the European Union directives towards decarbonization. Boosting interoperability, Optimems solutions can be integrated with several third-party inverters, PVs, WTs, batteries, EV chargers, Combined-Heat and Power (CHP) units, Thermal Energy Storage (TES), Heat Pumps (HP), smart meters, smart plugs, smart switches, without the need for additional hardware installations. The Optimems framework can incorporate any number of assets, enabling thus its adaptability in future expansions of the installations. Our platform is developed based not only on its effective implementation and evaluation in the field but also on its scalability, so that it can be adapted to the requirements of the environment that is integrated. Finally, through the usage of open-source protocols, i.e., OpenADR and OCPP, Optimems can participate in all major Demand-Side Management schemes available in Europe.