Flexibility services for citizen energy communities

  • A. Nixiang

Student thesis: Master


The Dutch power system is in transition. However, the current system is not designed to cope with the increasing penetration of Variable Renewable Energy (VRE) and the rapid electrification of transportation and heating system as this transition requested. In order to maintain the reliability and stability of the power system while preventing costly investment, modifying demand patterns among consumers has become the key. This creates a growing need for demand-side flexibility. In many literature and pilot projects, the services which aimed to provide such flexibility are in general referred to as flexibility services. Simultaneously with the concept of flexibility service is the popularity of energy community. Currently, one of the most popular forms of such communities is the Citizen Energy Community (CEC), which had been widely discussed in the EU and recently defined by the Electricity Directive under the Winter package. When flexibility is produced and organized in the CEC, various values can be created to the community members and other actors in the power system. These services are considered to have the ability to support the integration of VRE and contribute to the ongoing transition in the Dutch power system.

This study aims to address the two gaps in the literature on the topic of flexibility services in CECs: firstly, it discusses the definition and categorization of flexibility services, and explores how flexibility is organized in the Dutch power system. Secondly, the thesis identifies and quantifies the values which these services can offer to the actors in the Dutch power system with special attention given to the members of CECs. The main research question that this study aims to address is:
“What values can flexibility services create to the Citizen Energy Communities and other actors in the Dutch electricity system?”

To answer this question and the following sub-questions, this study adopts mixed methods, combining qualitative with quantitative research. Firstly, this study starts with a comprehensive literature review to collect information in the area of flexibility services in CECs and the values of these services. Secondly, this study adopts the quantitative approach. Two simulation tools, Artificial Load Profile Generator (ALPG) and Decentralized Energy Management toolkit (DEMKit), are modified to the use of this study. The combination of these two tools is used to quantify the available flexibility in the CEC. The output of this toolchain is combined with economic data to calculate the economic value created to the community members. The simulation and quantification are based on a case study of Interreg NWE funded project (588) Community-based Virtual Power Plant (cVPP). The cVPP Loenen (one of the cVPPs in the project) is considered as a CEC in this study. Additionally, this thesis also incorporates another qualitative approach, which is semi-structured qualitative interviews with experts on the topic of flexibility. The interviews are used to evaluate the correctness and timeliness of the findings in the literature review and also serve as a complement to the literature review.

The findings lead up to an answer for the main research question: for members of CECs, firstly, when implementing implicit flexibility services, economic, technical, environmental, and institutional values can be created. Given the current Dutch regulative context, for cVPP Loenen and the communities with similar scale and setting, ToU optimization at the community level (i.e. the service that helps the CEC to shift loads from high price intervals to low price intervals) is the service that can be implemented practically and, at the same time, offers the most economic value. The results from the simulation indicate that more than 20% of savings can be obtained in some cases. When the community has more Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), more flexibility can be unlocked and valorized, meaning more economic value of this particular service can be created. Secondly, when implementing explicit flexibility service, economic, institutional, and environmental values are created to CEC members.

From the perspective of other actors in the Dutch power system, when implementing these flexibility services in CECs, mostly, technical and economic value can be created to the DSO, the TSO, and the BRP, respectively.
Date of Award22 Sept 2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAnna J. Wieczorek (Supervisor 1), Phuong H. Nguyen (Supervisor 2) & Henny A. Romijn (Supervisor 2)


  • cVPP
  • flexibility
  • energy system
  • Netherlands

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