Active Consumers in the Future Energy System

Increasing electricity management would allow building a new power plant to be avoided

Today, the Foresight Centre presented the report ‘Active Consumers in the Future Energy System’, which reveals that electricity management potential reaches 400MW in Estonia, exceeding the capacity of the Auvere power plant. The realisation of this potential is based on the assumption that electric cars and heat pumps become more widespread.

Märt Masso, expert at the Foresight Centre, noted that more efficient management of electricity consumption would help to balance energy demand and supply. “If we could use all the existing power management potential, a power plant the size of Auvere would not have to be built,” said Masso.

In the coming years, large electrical devices of home consumers such as energy storage units, heat pumps and electric cars will be added to the power system, which are already more flexible and smarter in regulating consumption volumes. Thus, the potential of consumption management in the electricity system will increase significantly in the coming years, contributing considerably more to both the smoothing of price peaks and the improvement of the overall efficiency of the energy system.

“Additional consumers create flexibility in the power system by saving electricity as well as potentially consuming more electricity during hours when electricity prices are cheap,” said Einari Kisel, Head of Partnerships and Strategy at FinEst Centre for Smart Cities. “In order to take advantage of this potential, however, changes need to be made in the Estonian electricity market legislation.”

Assuming we have around 35,000 active consumers or prosumers in 2040, the potential for consumption management could reach around 400 MW if the price of electricity exceeds the 1000 €/MWh mark. Of this, the energy production and storage potential of households makes up about 175 MW and the volume of consumption management that can be achieved with the help of heat pumps and electric cars is 145 MW and 80 MW respectively.

We can already see that consumption management brings significant savings to people. An analysis based on Eesti Energia’s data showed that the company’s consumers who bought electricity at stock exchange-prices reduced their consumption by a total of 30-40 MW during the hours when prices were extremely high on 5 January this year and saved a total of about 1.5 million euros on buying electricity.

The Foresight Centre’s research stream ‘Active Consumers in the Future Energy System. Development Trends until 2040’ (in Estonian) aims to identify the key factors that shape the active role of consumers in the future energy system and to create scenarios of the possible impact of households and other micro-producers on the Estonian energy system up to 2040.

The analysis of demand response potential in Estonia was commissioned by the Foresight Centre and conducted by the FinEst Centre for Smart Cities, operating under Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech), and the university’s Department of Electrical Power Engineering and Mechatronics.

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