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Plugging European consumers into the energy market

Demand response programmes could bring European energy use down and benefit consumers, but their uptake has been slow. The EU-funded DRIMPAC project created a framework to ease this transition. The results could save costs and energy use, and help mitigate climate change

©Umair #625088755 source: 2023

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Demand response (DR) programmes are an innovative solution to European energy usage. By encouraging citizens to lower their energy consumption, especially during peak times, prices and emissions can be reduced, and citizens allowed to play a more active role in the energy market.

Yet they are still not widely used in EU Member States. This is partly due to the current regulatory framework, which needs to be updated to include demand-side management mechanisms such as DR schemes. While industrial consumers have been in mature ground for some decades now, there is a huge implementation gap particularly in residential and commercial buildings.

The EU-funded DRIMPAC project developed a new framework to ease the adoption of DR schemes across the EU. The intention is to engage consumers and energy providers in the potential for such programmes, and draw attention to the benefits.

“Public awareness and possibly training of the end users should be increased further, so they will become actively involved and engaged in the modification of energy consumption,” says Paschalis Gkaidatzis, research associate at the Information Technologies Institute in Greece, and DRIMPAC project manager. “If these were to be achieved, then this would enable the utilisation of the building sector, which has untapped energy potential,” he adds.

Mainstreaming DR schemes will help Europe to manage energy consumption in a more flexible manner, decreasing peak energy consumption, increasing the integration of renewable energy sources, decreasing fossil-fuel energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and boosting energy independence.

A new operating framework

The DRIMPAC project developed an integrative framework for DR schemes, including software and hardware components. The DRIMPAC proposal is a series of software solutions and tools that integrate into existing building energy management systems.

The system receives all the necessary available data, including energy consumption and generation, indoor conditions such as temperature, humidity and occupancy, and outdoor conditions. AI-based technologies then extract information on the thermal comfort of the indoor environment.

“This will help to calculate what is called the energy flexibility of the building, that is to say, what amount of energy is currently used, compared to what can be reduced, or even increased,” Gkaidatzis explains.

Through the DRIMPAC project, the project partners developed new software components and tools, which were integrated in the final programme.

Managing energy flow

The DRIMPAC solution will be particularly useful to distribution system operators (DSO), organisations responsible for distributing and managing energy from generation sources to consumers.

The DSO can use the software to send a signal to utility providers, saying it has congestion issues and asking them to regulate energy flow, for example.

This could also lower overall energy prices, as generating electricity during peak times is the most expensive. It can also significantly aid network stability, particularly in the face of adverse events such as a power line fault.

“DR programmes can greatly assist in the reduction of the demand for a short period of time, enabling the DSO to handle the failure more effectively, avoiding a wider power outage such as a black out,” remarks Gkaidatzis.

Pilots and future developments

The DRIMPAC team tested their solution in four trials across Europe, in Cyprus, France, Germany and Spain, offering a range of local climate conditions.

The pilots delivered impressive results. “We managed to save energy costs and emissions up to 50 %, and reduce peak load by 55 %,” notes Gkaidatzis.

The DRIMPAC project comprised many partners, each of which will exploit the results of the project in unique ways. One project partner, Siemens, has already used the system to test and validate one of its own energy management products.

More broadly, the project results could help with the penetration of renewable energy sources into Europe’s energy mix, supporting progress in the European Green Deal.

Ultimately the solution will provide a fairer price system for the utility providers, and boost consumer awareness of more prudent energy usage, says Gkaidatzis, “thus helping to mitigate climate change.”

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Project details

Project acronym
Project number
Project coordinator: Greece
Project participants:
Total cost
€ 4 595 646
EU Contribution
€ 3 770 583
Project duration

See also

More information about project DRIMPAC

All success stories